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AEROSPACE: AERO ENGINES


Fuel cells for sustainable aviation


UK Consortium is working on sustainable propulsion technology for the commercial aviation sector


C


ranfield Aerospace Solutions (CAeS) – the UK SME leading the Project Fresson consortium – will exploit recent advances in hydrogen fuel cell technology to


develop a commercially viable, retrofit powertrain for the nine-passenger Britten- Norman Islander aircraft. Following a rigorous assessment of hydrogen technology innovators, CAeS invited Ricardo UK and Innovatus Technologies into the Fresson consortium to contribute their expertise. Ricardo UK brings its experience in fuel cell system development and Innovatus Technologies brings its innovative Scottish Hydrogen Fuel Tank (SHyFT) technology. According to Steve Dyke, managing


director Ricardo Automotive and Industrial EMEA Division, the Cranfield Aerospace Solutions consortium will play a significant role in helping to reduce the carbon footprint for commercial air passengers and Ricardo is already working on hydrogen and fuel cell technology, providing clean efficient systems which reduce carbon and noxious emissions across a range of sectors. “Our work for the Fresson consortium will enable us to consolidate and grow our hydrogen fuel cell and propulsion capability so that Ricardo can achieve its ambition of becoming a major player in hydrogen and fuel cell services and systems and help accelerate net zero transportation,” he says. Innovatus Technologies is a specialist in


next generation ultra-lightweight hydrogen tank design exploiting patented cellular


30 /// Testing & Test Houses /// June 2021


core composite techniques. This is critical to the successful integration and exploitation of hydrogen fuel cell power systems in applications across aerospace, automotive, industrial and marine sectors. According to Ruan Swart, CEO of


Innovatus Technologies, the unique and innovative SHyFT system has its role to play in bringing zero carbon fuel cell energy to commercial reality in the transport sector. “Project Fresson showcases important


Scottish innovation and next generation hydrogen tank manufacturing in the UK,” he says. Project Fresson will deliver an emissions-free (zero CO2), hydrogen-fuel- cell-powered flying demonstrator by September of next year. Having completed a comprehensive evaluation of technologies and configurations for sustainable aircraft propulsion, the Fresson team concluded that hydrogen fuel cell technology is the optimum method for meeting environmental, regulatory and operational requirements for this size of aircraft, enabling zero carbon emissions and reducing operating costs. This has presented the Fresson consortium, which includes Britten-Norman and Cranfield University, with an opportunity to deliver an enhanced technology programme that surpasses the original demonstrator concept. Paul Hutton, CEO of Cranfield Aerospace Solutions, says that this is incredibly important for the Project Fresson team but also for everyone else around the world interested in zero emissions flight.


❱❱ The Fresson Project will use hydrogen fuel cells to power the Britten-Norman Islander aircraft, top; the new Testbed 80 facility at Rolls-Royce in Derby will test future electric aviation propulsion units as well as the current Trent XWB engine, above


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