According tomedia newatlas reported that all but the oil companies, estimated that everyone wants the electric aviation can take off as soon as possible. The aviation industry is a huge source of pollution, and electric aircraft are not only cleaner but also cheaper in terms of energy and maintenance. The problem now, however, is that batteries, whose energy density are not available at this stage at all, cannot guarantee that a large number of studies in the field of batteries will soon change that.
Many companies are now starting to see hydrogen as a solution. Batteries are still a better solution for 99% of automotive use, but hydrogen’s excellent energy density makes it a better potential object, and for anything that flies, people don’t need to build a huge distribution network to meet medium-range hydrogen flight. In fact, hydrogen can be obtained on site if electricity can be delivered to the airport.
To that end, themedia newatlas interviewed Val Miftakhov, founder and CEO of ZeroAvia, a company that has made a big bet on hydrogen fuel in the aerospace sector. Unlike some companies that focus on the short-haul eVTOL air taxi market, ZeroAvia focuses on the development and modification of fuel cell power systems for small 10-20-seat aircraft to develop medium-range regional flights. The company says the operation could reduce costs by up to 50 per cent. According to Miftakhov, they are not competing with batteries, but with aviation fuel.
According to Miftakhov, their development work began as early as the end of 2017, but the initial team was established the following year and began ground testing of the powertrain. In February 2019, they installed the first version of the power train in the United States on a six-seat, two-ton Piper Malibu M330. Not only did the prototype get initial FAA certification, but it was tested last spring. Miftakhov said they had learned a lot from the test flight, and earlier this year they built a second prototype in the UK and planned to begin flight testing of the aircraft at Cranfield.
But with new engines, including battery power and other non-traditional engines — and of course, hydrogen power – there is no guide for them to refer to, it’s exactly what they’re doing right now with the FAA and the CAA. According to the plan, they will develop a system for certification and guidelines for testing guidance in 12-18 months.
In addition, according to Miftakhov, the challenge for hydrogen fuel is fuel storage, and a classic practice is to use compressed gas cylinders, and ZeroAvia’s tank technology can achieve a mass fraction of 10-11% (a mass fraction is the percentage of fuel in the tank system). In other words, a 10 kg fuel system is required to store one kilogram of fuel. Miftakhov believes they could put the technology into commercial use within three years.