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Nidec Leroy-Somer to develop electric motors for future Airbus hydrogen fuel cell engine

Nidec Leroy-Somer has signed an agreement with Airbus to develop an electric motor for Airbus’ hydrogen-powered fuel cell engine prototype, as part of Airbus’ ambition to bring the first zero-emission commercial aircraft to market by 2035. (Earlier post.)


Image of the AIrbus fuel cell demonstrator engine

Leroy-Somer, part of the Japanese Nidec Group since 2017, is entrusted to design and develop a series of electric motor prototypes which meet very high requirements in terms of safety, reliability, energy-efficiency and lowest weight for the targeted power.


Its Research & Development Team is also challenged to explore breakthrough technologies and innovations to optimize the architecture of the aircraft propulsion system. Project management, design, engineering, and prototyping will all be done from its headquarters in Angoulême, France.


Prototypes, designed for performance and integration in Airbus’ zero-emission hydrogen powered fuel cell engine, will first be tested on ground using dedicated test benches. Following the initial qualification and validation, a second phase of in-flight testing will be conducted.



Anyone got any insights into what are the challenges and possibilities of fuel cell engines?
How would it be different to that for a battery powered engine?
My guess would be that it is tougher to have multiple distributed engine units, as shown on many battery aircraft prototypes.

Of course, jet engines powered by hydrogen are a whole different ball game, but I have not seen anything on fuel cell engines, as opposed to the fuel cells and hydrogen storage.


No mention of the power or thrust needed for this engine at all, so we can't tell if this is for as light aircraft, a regional-type aircraft or something bigger. Most electric aircraft are nibbling at shorter range segments for now due to battery weight considerations.

@Davemart there's no real difference in the electric engine design whether powered by a fuel cell or by battery pack. In fact it ought to be easier with a battery pack because dimensioning max power needed for takeoff and climb is the critical parameter of the power source. A fuel cell must be sized for that output level, meaning it will need to be overengineered for redundancy. To get more power from a battery system, you just design it with greater parallelism between the multiple battery packs you have.


Hey Floatplane!
This is for their light, lower range ( although higher than battery version ) aircraft:

100 passengers, and 1,000 nautical miles.
But that does cover a fair amount of the market.

Longer and heavier you need jet engines, running on hydrogen or SAF.

I have not tracked the specs of the fuel cells, but presumably they are hoping for something along of the order of the Hypoint fuel cells, now owned by ZeroAvia:

Check out the white paper here:


Can a flight optimized fuel cell system achieve very high power density by using higher pressure reactions or some other technique? The weight penalty versus turbine engine must payoff with high enough range given that they will always be more efficient, unless system weight is traded for efficiency.

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