BASF Environmental Catalyst and Metal Solutions (ECMS) and ZeroAvia signed an agreement for the supply of membrane electrode assemblies (MEAs) and to collaborate on research on next generation MEAs for ZeroAvia’s high temperature proton exchange membrane (HT-PEM) fuel cell stacks for aviation.
The companies will work together to accelerate the commercialization of a high-powered and lightweight MEA for HT-PEM fuel cells, suitable for the aviation market. The HT-PEM fuel cell utilizes ECMS’s Celtec technology and catalyst expertise.
As part of this initial agreement, ECMS and ZeroAvia will also work to establish a long-term supply agreement for MEAs, including the supply and sourcing of the associated platinum group metals (PGMs) and PGM containing catalysts. Joint development work aims to enhance the components and materials supplied, thus increasing the performance of ZeroAvia’s overall HT-PEM fuel cell stacks.
For 20 years, ECMS has been a leader in membrane and MEA technology for HT-PEM fuel cells through its Celtec brand. It also has a strong foundation in precious metal services and catalysis.
ZeroAvia’s team achieved technological breakthroughs by delivering a pressurized HT-PEM system. High temperature PEM fuel cells can be a critical enabling technology for large, fixed-wing aircraft, rotorcraft and eVTOL applications. Increased temperature and pressure allow for air cooling, reduce cooling drag, simplify the system, and ultimately enable much more demanding applications.
ZeroAvia’s testing of its pressurized 20kW HT-PEM stack power module has already demonstrated an industry-leading 2.5 kW/kg power at the cell level. The company is targeting a 3+ kW/kg system level power density over the next two to three years, which requires advances in various components within the stacks. This will help extend the technology from supporting regional turboprop aircraft, to potentially enabling hydrogen-electric propulsion systems for 100 plus seat narrowbody turbofan aircraft such as the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320.
Partnering with ECMS enables us to accelerate our HT-PEM development, facilitating rapid development of our powertrains for large regional turboprop, regional jet and ultimately, even narrowbody aircraft. This agreement is an important step towards securing the components that will enable manufacture of the ZA2000 engines for 40-80 seat aircraft once certified in 2027.—Rudolf Coertze, Head of R&D, ZeroAvia