New Zealand-based Fabrum and British engineering consultancy Filton Systems Engineering (FSE) have joined forces with GKN Aerospace to help shift aviation towards hydrogen flight with end-to-end hydrogen fuel system technology.
GKN Aerospace is the world’s leading multi-technology tier 1 aerospace supplier; with 38 manufacturing locations in 12 countries, they serve more than 90% of the world’s aircraft and engine manufacturers.
This collaboration leverages FSE’s aerospace capability in fuel systems and designing fuel, air, hydraulic, inerting and engine systems, and Fabrum’s cryogenic and fuel tank storage technology and expertise in hydrogen fuel systems.
The announcement coincides with FSE’s upgrade to their existing hot and cold fuel test facility to offer both gaseous and liquid hydrogen in a world-first commercial test environment in Bristol, which has become a global focal point for hydrogen flight activity. These test facilities enable aerospace companies to produce and test liquid hydrogen as a fuel for hydrogen test flights, with FSE providing further support towards certification for flight status.
At the FSE test facility, a ground-based demonstrator of a 2.4 kW liquid hydrogen system has been jointly designed with GKN Aerospace, and built by FSE, under the Innovate UK-funded Safe Flight project. This end-to-end system demonstrates the feasibility of liquid hydrogen as an aircraft fuel source and addresses many of the safety concerns raised by the introduction of such a novel fuel.
The project has developed storage and dispensing technologies, optimised purging systems, and integrated fuel tank design with distribution on aircraft (including vaporisation and conditioning) through to supplying a fuel cell with gaseous hydrogen at the required temperature and pressure over a range of electrical loads representative of a typical flight.
Dr Ojas Mahapatra, Fabrum’s CEO, said, “Point-of-use liquid hydrogen production is the most economical short to medium-term solution to enable zero emission flight. We’ve already proven our ground hydrogen fuel solutions for small and medium-scale hydrogen production.”
Ben Richardson, Commercial Director, Filton Systems Engineering, said, “We see this as a vital asset to the Aerospace, and other industrial sectors, if hydrogen is going to be developed as an alternate fuel source.”
Christopher Boyle, Fabrum’s Managing Director and co-founder, said, “We’re the only company in the world with capability in electrolysis, liquefaction, distribution and fuel ground storage through to aircraft fuelling on onboard fuel tanks – with the ability to vaporise liquid back to gas at the right pressure and temperature for the fuel cell.”