The aviation industry has been making great strides toward reducing its carbon footprint and achieving net-zero carbon emissions in recent years, and a company that is leading the way in this effort is ZeroAvia, a U.S.-based venture that designs and builds zero-emission, hydrogen-electric aircraft propulsion systems.
Partnered with Alaska Airlines, the company retrofitted a Bombardier Q400 regional turboprop with its hydrogen-electric propulsion system — discover the advantages of hydrogen-powered electric engines for long-range flights in our article on the hydrogen flying race car —, with the aim of developing a commercially viable zero-emission aircraft with fuel cell engine technology. This exciting partnership is a significant step towards achieving the aviation industry’s goal of net-zero carbon emissions.
At a recent event, Alaska Airlines’ regional carrier (Horizon Air) handed over the Q400 aircraft to ZeroAvia for research and development purposes, and to celebrate this innovative partnership, the aircraft was given a special livery; ZeroAvia showcased its impressive multi-megawatt modular electric motor system at the event, which is a key component in enabling commercially-relevant hydrogen fuel cell engines for larger aircraft. The electric motor technology, combined with higher-temperature PEM fuel cells and advanced power electronics, is sure to take zero-emissions flight to the next level.
The hydrogen-electric engine from ZeroAvia uses fuel cells to generate electricity from hydrogen fuel, which then powers electric motors to drive the aircraft propellers. To ensure commercial viability, the certifiable ZA2000 system will include ZeroAvia’s High-Temperature PEM fuel cells and liquid hydrogen fuel storage. The project is aligned with the Dash 8-400 airframe and is aimed at developing a commercially-viable zero-emission aircraft with fuel cell engine technology. The hope is that this project will showcase the need for new technologies and collaborations among industry players to achieve net-zero carbon emissions in aviation.
Alaska Airlines CEO, Ben Minicucci, said, “This is a huge step forward in aviation innovation, and we’re excited to partner with ZeroAvia to make new zero-emissions options a reality. Alaska Airlines has a long-term goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions, and this partnership will help us make that future possible.”
The project is set to take off with a test flight next year, and we can’t wait to see the future of zero-emission flight technology in action.