The Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI)’s Hydrogen Capability Network (HCN) has identified three immediate priorities for liquid hydrogen-powered flight to become a reality in the UK: test infrastructure, research and skills.

The recommendations follow the HCN’s first report since the initiative, funded by the Department for Business and Trade, was launched in April 2023. Over the last 12 months, the HCN has worked to develop the key recommendations from the ATI’’s FlyZero project, which identified liquid hydrogen as the zero-carbon emission fuel with the greatest potential to scale to large commercial aircraft. However, “this revolutionary technology shift for aviation requires unprecedented coordination between government, industry and academia to maximise UK market share,” explains Laura Cuss, programme director.

Three core priorities recommended by the HCN’s ‘Securing Liquid Hydrogen Capability in the UK’ report include establishing at least two open access hydrogen test hubs, conducting a four-year strategic research programme on cryogenic hydrogen materials testing standards, and launching pilot initiatives to accelerate action on skills shortages.

After these pressing issues have been addressed, research can subsequently turn to larger-scale testing, demonstration in an airport environment and ultimately the design and manufacture of liquid hydrogen aircraft technologies. The HCN is also setting out to make recommendations for longer-term strategic interventions for hydrogen research and development in the UK.

Continuation of the ATI’s HCN programme has been confirmed until at least 2025.
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