Ricardo and Innovatus joins hydrogen fuel cell aviation consortium

Project Fresson aims to deliver a hydrogen fuel cell-powered flying demonstrator by 2022

Caes, which is leading the Project Fresson consortium for developing the hydrogen fuel cell-powered plane, is now joined by Ricardo UK Ltd and Innovatus Technologies Ltd. The consortium said that Ricardo would bring expertise in fuel cell system development, and Innovatus will offer its innovative Scottish Hydrogen Fuel Tank (Shyft) technology.

Cranfield Aerospace Solutions (Caes), a UK aerospace company, plan to use hydrogen fuel cell technology to produce a commercial retrofit powertrain solution for the nine-passenger Britten-Norman Islander aircraft. Project Fresson will deliver an emissions-free hydrogen-fuel-cell-powered flying demonstrator by September 2022.

The consortium has conducted a detailed study of the technologies and configurations for sustainable aircraft propulsion by assessing hydrogen fuel cell technology from various aspects such as environmental, regulatory and lower operational costs.

Steve Dyke, Managing Director Ricardo Automotive and Industrial EMEA Division, said, “We are already working on hydrogen and fuel cell technology, providing clean, efficient solutions which reduce carbon and noxious emissions across a wide range of sectors.”

Paul Hutton, Chief Executive Officer, Cranfield Aerospace Solutions, said, “This project can deliver the world’s first truly “green” passenger-carrying airline services.”

Jenny Kavanagh, Chief Strategy Officer, Cranfield Aerospace Solutions, added, “Project Fresson is more than just a technology demonstrator; it has one focus above all others: real operational and commercial viability.”

Ruan Swart, Chief Executive Officer Innovatus Technologies Ltd, said, “Project Fresson showcases important Scottish innovation and next-generation hydrogen tank manufacturing in the UK.”

Innovatus offers its services in ultralightweight hydrogen tank design using patented cellular core composite techniques. Shyft is a Type IV or V composite high-pressure vessel, unlike conventional large, heavyweight cylindrical vessels. Its largest model boasts the world’s highest Gravimetric Storage Density of 10%, allowing 5.4 kg of hydrogen storage.

Rolls-Royce, which was part of the programme, has now withdrawn its support from Project Fresson as the consortium stated, “As a result of these changes, there is now no longer a need for the Rolls-Royce element of the aircraft programme.” Project Fresson is supported by the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) Programme.

Ethan Mandel

Ethan is the special correspondent for Europe covering the hydrogen industry for H2 Bulletin. Please click on the email icon to contact me via email or follow me on social media. I am reachable on Phone: +44 (0) 208 123 7812
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