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California Energy Commission awards $3.25M to ZeroAvia to develop high efficiency liquid hydrogen refueling trucks

ZeroAvia has been awarded $3.25 million in funding by the California Energy Commission (CEC) to develop a first-of-a-kind mobile liquid hydrogen (LH2) refueling truck for heavy-duty applications, including aviation and maritime. Funding for the project comes from the Gas R&D Program administered by the CEC and authorized by the California Public Utilities Commission.

Working at Livermore Municipal Airport, ZeroAvia will begin work this month to design, build, and demonstrate a 10,000-liter mobile LH2 refueler with sufficient flow rates to refuel in a similar time as traditional jet fuel refills. Hitting this ambitious target will support hydrogen-powered aircraft in meeting tight turnaround windows, especially in regional transport.

The LH2 refueler will also be designed to improve on existing energy efficiency in LH2 applications, including reducing hydrogen boil-off to less than 0.1% per day.

ZeroAvia is developing hydrogen fuel cell propulsion as a solution to tackling the climate impact from aviation. The company plans to support passenger and cargo flights by the end of 2025 with its first hydrogen-electric engines (ZA600) for 9-19 seat aircraft using gaseous hydrogen storage.

To scale hydrogen engines to larger commercial aircraft and to enable longer ranges across all aircraft sizes, cryogenic liquid hydrogen must be used to reduce the size and weight of the fuel storage systems. ZeroAvia is already developing its larger ZA2000 engine family, with the first high power ground tests of the fully integrated electric propulsion system conducted earlier this year.

These larger aircraft—such as the Dash-8-400 76-seat aircraft ZeroAvia is working on with Alaska Airlines and other partners— will require up to 1 ton of LH2 storage on board to support up to 700 nautical mile range, with target launch in 2027.

The CEC-funded project advances the commercial viability of liquid hydrogen fueled aircraft by supporting advancements in energy performance, cost efficiency, and refueling speed. The technology also has potential application in other segments of the transportation sector, including road freight and maritime.

Separately, ZeroAvia announced that regional operator MEHAIR has placed a conditional order for up to 20 ZA600 hydrogen-electric engines. The order adds to the more than 2,000 engine pre-orders secured by ZeroAvia.

MEHAIR (Maritime Energy Heli Air Services Pvt Ltd.) has historically offered services across the Indian sub-continent, commencing with the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in 2011. The company now plans to grow across a range of sub-regional routes across India with both amphibian and wheeled aircraft.




MEHAIR will explore a range of options for financing the acquisition and retrofit of the engines to its upcoming fleet of 10 Cessna Caravan aircraft , including working with potential leasing partners. The company already has a relationship with MONTE as its preferred ZA600 lessor partner. ZeroAvia and MEHAIR will also work together on establishing the fuel supply for the operator’s services across India.

ZeroAvia plans to certify the ZA600 by the end of 2025 and is already working closely with the UK’s CAA as well as other regulators to ensure harmonization and rapid certification globally.

India has big aspirations to use hydrogen as a key enabler of its clean energy future, particularly in hard-to-abate sectors such as aviation, and to deliver net zero by 2070. A target of reaching 5 million metric tons of hydrogen production per annum has been set for 2030.

Aviation too is growing rapidly across the country, with passenger numbers more than doubling over the last decade and more than 500 million passengers per annum predicted by 2030 according to CAPA, India.



De-carbonisation of flight is falling into some sort of pattern now, with battery electric dominating the very light short flight trainer market etc, and perhaps a future VTOL market.

For medium haul and medium capacity, hydrogen either combusted on in fuel cells are making some progress.

In that context, the experience that Zero Avia et al are looking for in on the ground handling and supply should be of great interest to Airbus's more ambitious and rather longer term projects.

For transatlantic etc, SAF is the only game in town.

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