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Universal Hydrogen, magniX, Plug Power, and AeroTEC set up hydrogen aviation center at Moses Lake, Washington

Universal Hydrogen, magniX, Plug Power and AeroTEC have established a Hydrogen Aviation Test and Service Center at Grant County International Airport in Moses Lake, Washington. The center will focus on the test flight and certification of Universal Hydrogen’s retrofit conversion of a Dash-8 regional turboprop aircraft, scheduled for entry into commercial service in 2025. (Earlier post.).

Early adopters of the zero-carbon emission technology include Ravn Alaska, Icelandair, and Spain’s Air Nostrum, which have entered into letters of intent with Universal Hydrogen to convert their existing and future fleets to a hydrogen powertrain, and for long-term hydrogen fuel supply contracts using Universal Hydrogen’s modular capsule distribution network.

The hydrogen powertrain comprises electric propulsion units (EPUs) from Everett-based magniX and fuel cells from Plug Power, which has a significant operational footprint in Spokane, Washington. Seattle-based AeroTEC will lead aircraft conversion, flight test, and certification activities, drawing on its own extensive experience with electric aviation and expertise from across the aerospace sector.

The conversion work for US-based airlines, flight test, as well as continuing airworthiness support would be based in AeroTEC’s Moses Lake facility.

AeroTEC’s Moses Lake facility has long been a favorite location for electric aviation projects, having recently flown a battery-powered 9-passenger Cessna 208B “eCaravan,” also powered by a magniX EPU.

Universal Hydrogen’s Dash-8 conversion will be the first commercially-relevant hydrogen-powered aircraft, serving 41 to 60 passengers on routes up to 1,000 kilometers. Hydrogen fuel for the airplanes will be supplied using modular capsules that can be transported to airports using the existing freight network and on-airport cargo handling equipment, requiring no new infrastructure.

Universal Hydrogen completed its Series A investment round earlier in the year, led by prominent Silicon Valley venture fund, Playground Global, with the investor syndicate comprising Plug Power, Fortescue Future Industries, Coatue, Global Founders Capital, Airbus Ventures, JetBlue Technology Ventures, Toyota Ventures, and Sojitz Corporation.

Comments

Davemart

That is is a completely different size class to the all electric Eviation aircraft discussed here recently, and hopefully none of them have burst into flames recently, although they will still have to use substantial batteries.

SJC

Fuel cell powered aircraft have the range without the weight

Davemart

They have had to rip out 10 seats to fit in the hydrogen tanks, so fuel cell aircraft are not an easy change either.

As an advocate for fuel cells and hydrogen, it behooves me to be fair, not simply a cheer leader.

I don't carry pom-poms! ;-)

SJC

Liquid hydrogen is smaller and lighter

sd

@Davemart,

I do not believe that the Eviation prototype caught fire. I think that they were endurance testing the motors with an external power source which caught fire and damaged the prototype. Either way, it did not look good but hopefully their new prototype will make it into the air but I expect all of this will take longer than projected.

One thing to remember is that the first flight of the Wright brothers was 120 feet and the last flight in 1903 was only 852 ft with a flight time of 59 seconds. And this was after 4 years of experimentation.

Davemart

@sd:

I could not spot anything about the fire on their website, and if something goes wrong, I prefer companies which give detail rather than go quiet.

sd

@Davemart

Look at the following:

https://www.ainonline.com/aviation-news/business-aviation/2020-01-24/eviations-electric-alice-aircraft-catches-fire-during-ground-tests

https://www.flightglobal.com/airframers/eviation-alice-fire-involved-lithium-ion-batteries-which-ignited-after-hours-of-powerplant-tests/141228.article

Still hard to figure exactly what happened as the FAA did not investigate as the aircraft involved was a non-flying prototype.

Interesting to note that they were planning to be certified in 2022. The new prototype has yet to fly but they are projecting a flight later this year. I would guess that this may slip and they will not have commercial flights until 2025 or later. I hope that they succeed but it will not be easy.

gryf

Having read "Bjorn's Corner" some time ago, and came to the their same conclusions: Hybrid, electric, H2/FC just do not have any long range capabilities for aircraft propulsion.
Turbofan engines are already very efficient and MTU is now looking at "Steam Injected Gas Turbines" or STIG for aircraft. It is kind of like combined cycle or something like the "Cheng Cycle" and reaches over 50% thermal efficiency (so no FC needed).
The only possible alternative fuel is Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) based on advanced biofuels and is a drop-in replacement. Currently, too expensive though ORNL and PNNL are looking at improved catalysts.
Most think Corn Ethanol is not a good biofuel, because it is not 100% Green. However, we need to make all agriculture 100% Green including Corn Ethanol with Green Ammonia, Autonomous Electric tractors, and something like this:
"Scotch whisky distilleries to use renewable electricity created by underwater turbines"https://www.cnbc.com/2021/02/04/whisky-distilleries-to-use-electricity-created-by-underwater-turbines-.html.
If we can reduce gasoline use significantly then all the ethanol now blended into gasoline could be converted into SAF. In the meantime, maybe we could use something like the Shinkansen I traveled on between Tokyo to Kyota which went over 500km in 2 hours and 20 minutes.

Davemart

@sd

Thanks for the links.
That is the kind of informed commentary which makes this site such a great resource.

On the subject:

' Reached by FlightGlobal, Eviation declines further comment about the fire or Alice’s development timeline.'

Is the sort of thing which puts a company into my zero-confidence zone.

They are mouthy talking about potential benefits to encourage funding, and schtum on problems.

I wonder if they would like to buy a proble-free bridge I have for sale?

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