ZeroAvia and PowerCell to jointly develop fuel cell stacks for aviation

ZeroAvia, a specialist in zero-emission aircraft powertrains, has signed a memorandum of understanding with PowerCell Sweden to develop fuel cells designed for aircraft applications. The Gothenburg-based company will develop and deliver at least 5,000 aviation-optimized proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell stacks between 2024 and 2028.

As part of the MoU, PowerCell intends to establish a presence in the UK for the first time, building a production team alongside ZeroAvia’s production facilities. The two companies will continue to work together to modify existing PowerCell cells to optimize the performance of ZeroAvia’s zero-emission hydrogen aviation powertrains. PowerCell intends to assemble the modified stacks for incorporation into ZeroAvia’s prototype and subsequent certified powertrains.

PowerCell was a key supplier of low-temperature PEM fuel cells as part of ZeroAvia’s pioneering efforts to develop a certified 600 kW hydrogen electric powertrain under the HyFlyer II project. ZeroAvia plans to power 9- to 19-seat commercial aircraft up to 300 nautical miles using its ZA600 powerplants by 2024, enabling emissions-free flights on routes such as London to Edinburgh and Stockholm to Malmö.

ZeroAvia is preparing for the maiden test flight of its 600 kW hydrogen electric motor in the coming days, including the use of PowerCell fuel cells as part of these systems. The company is also upgrading a second Dornier-228 testbed for further flight testing and demonstrations in the important North American market.

“This MoU further solidifies ZeroAvia’s lead in the race to provide true zero-emissions engines for commercial flights,” said ZeroAvia founder and CEO Val Miftakhov. “By co-locating this operation, we can ensure the full collaboration of the two talented teams in adapting hydrogen fuel cells for aviation. This will result in the delivery of systems with the power required to enable electric aviation to achieve range and payload that is highly attractive to operators and airframe OEMs while eliminating emissions.

“Working with ZeroAvia has been central to our entry into the clean aviation market, which is a very large future market for fuel cell technology. We are excited to further formalize this partnership and establish our first development presence in the UK, given our opportunities here in multiple sectors,” said Richard Berkling, CEO of PowerCell Sweden.

PowerCell will establish a UK operation under the interim agreement, which will be finalized in the third quarter of 2022.

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