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Acquisitive ZeroAvia places hydrogen fuel stack order
After demonstration of six-seat R&D prototypes, ZeroAvia is preparing for the inaugural test flight of its 600kW hydrogen-electric engine, including the use of PowerCell fuel cell stacks as part of these systems.
ZeroAvia has acquired HyPoint.

PowerCell and ZeroAvia have signed the world's first contract ever covering the serial delivery of hydrogen fuel stacks to the aviation industry. The agreement is conditioned on ZeroAvia obtaining necessary certifications and comprises 5,000 hydrogen fuel cell stacks with deliveries planned to start in 2024.

The deal follows the memorandum of understanding that was announced 18 July 2022. ZeroAvia focuses on hydrogen-electric aviation solutions and aims to launch a 19-seat aircraft with 300-mile range by 2025. ZeroAvia has already passed significant flight test milestones and has a number of key partnerships with major aircraft OEMs and major global airlines such as British Airways, United Airlines and American Airlines.

PowerCell will, upon completed aviation certifications, deliver a total of 0.5 GW fuel cells comprising of 300 kW superstack modules based on the industrialized 100 kW fuel cell stack. The fuel stacks will be used by ZeroAvia to manufacture a 600 kW, low-temperature, hydrogen-electric powertrain for the certified 19-seat, fuel cell-powered commercial aircraft.

As part of the agreement, PowerCell will establish a unit in the UK for final assembly and the adaptation of the stacks to ZeroAvia's fuel cell system and application. The new unit will give PowerCell both proximity to the customer and the significant aviation market.

After conducting demonstration of six-seat R&D prototypes, ZeroAvia is preparing for the inaugural test flight of its 600kW hydrogen-electric engine in the coming days, including the use of PowerCell fuel cell stacks as part of these systems. The company is also retrofitting a second Dornier-228 testbed in Hollister, California, to conduct further flight tests and demonstrations in the important North American market.

Richard Berkling, CEO, PowerCell Sweden AB, says: “We are proud of this serial delivery deal which shows that the demanding aviation industry, which is leading the development of hydrogen electric applications, recognises our positioning and offering 'Industrialised Innovation' as truly value-creating. We look forward to continuing the close cooperation with clean aviation leader ZeroAvia and the joint contribution to an aircraft fleet with zero emissions.”

Val Miftakhov, ZeroAvia, founder and CEO, adds: “We aim to power a revolution in green flight, and hydrogen-electric powertrains are the only viable, scalable solution for zero-emission aviation. We are addressing a multi-billion dollar market for converting aircraft to zero-emission engines, and we need the surety of high quality LTPEM fuel cell stacks in our supply chain to meet that opportunity. This deal gives us that certainty from a provider that has formed a big part of our early designs and testing towards a certifiable system.”

In a separate development, ZeroAvia has acquired in full the leading fuel cell stack innovator HyPoint.

The acquisition adds HyPoint's advanced high-temperature fuel cell technology, a promising avenue for increasing power output and energy density of aviation fuel cell powertrains, to ZeroAvia's already leading expertise in developing the full powertrain to enable hydrogen-electric flight.

All 40 HyPoint team members will be integrated into ZeroAvia, working across the R&D locations in Kemble, Gloucestershire, and HyPoint's location in Sandwich, Kent, both in the UK. HyPoint's CEO Alex Ivanenko joins ZeroAvia as GM for VTOL and new segments, to develop ZeroAvia's rotorcraft business applications and to explore other applications outside of ZeroAvia's core focus on fixed-wing commercial aviation.

All of HyPoint's engineering team will join ZeroAvia's hydrogen power generation systems (PGS) division led by Rudolf Coertze, CTO hydrogen, combining two rare sets of exceptionally talented fuel cell researchers and engineers working in the field today.

The two companies have worked closely together on co-developing and testing HTPEM fuel cell technology as part of ZeroAvia's powertrain development over the last couple of years, with HyPoint relocating the bulk of its R&D into the UK in February 2022 to support the partnership. HyPoint has garnered recognition as an innovator developing technology with the potential to significantly expedite the introduction of fuel cell propulsion into larger aircraft. This early partnership was part of ZeroAvia's work within the HyFlyer II programme, supported by the UK's ATI Programme.

Miftakhov says: “We see this as a significant forward step for ZeroAvia and a hugely important strategic step to strengthen our leadership position in hydrogen-electric powertrain development for aviation. There are no other organisations with the breadth of expertise and world-leading IP in hydrogen-electric aviation that we now have within the company. This acquisition, together with our long-standing partnership with the leading LTPEM (low-temperature PEM) fuel cell maker PowerCell, puts us in the top position for delivering the most environmentally and economically attractive solution to aviation's growing climate impact.”

Alex Ivanenko, former CEO of HyPoint and newly appointed GM for VTOL and new segments at ZeroAvia, adds: “This acquisition is the natural next chapter in our journey, allowing us to tap into the benefits of the larger and strategic resources that ZeroAvia has to offer. It will accelerate our product development and, as a result, partners from different market segments will get mature products based on novel turbo-air cooled HTPEM hydrogen fuel cells. The team and I are excited to join forces with ZeroAvia to achieve the ambitious vision and product roadmap for zero-emission aviation.”

This new development comes on the heels of the announcement of a major deal with ZeroAvia's long-term fuel cell partner PowerCell, which will see the serial delivery of hydrogen fuel stacks beginning in 2024. Together, these moves will allow ZeroAvia to progress both LTPEM and HTPEM technologies for relevant aviation applications from a strong position of leadership.

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