Progress within the aerospace industry towards developing cleaner, alternative propulsion methods is such that hydrogen-electric aviation is already coming to market and passengers may soon be able to purchase their first tickets for aircraft powered by the new technology, according to Val Miftakhov, founder and CEO of ZeroAvia.

Speaking at the Sustainable Skies World Summit 2023, he said: “At ZeroAvia we build hydrogen electric propulsion, which means that we build engine replacements for commercial aircraft. We start with 10 to 20 seat aircraft, in flight right now we’re flying test prototypes already in the UK, and commercial introduction of that technology is just two or two and a half years away.

“Then we’re working already on the larger aircraft, 40 to 80 seats in size, and that’s five years out. So hydrogen electric aviation is already getting to market. It will be here pretty soon and people will be able to buy tickets.”

Miftakhov said hydrogen would have a bigger carbon emission reduction than alternatives such as sustainable aviation fuel.


He explained: “Over time in the long term, and that’s meaning 10, 20, 30 years out, hydrogen is really the best option, because it is not only allowing you to make better economic sense, if you compare with sustainable aviation fuels, especially synthetic ones, hydrogen propulsion is actually cheaper.

“But also on the climate impacts side of things, and that’s why we’re doing all of this, sustainability. On the climate index side of things, hydrogen electric or hydrogen fuel cell based propulsion allows us to reduce the climate impact almost to zero, a 10 to 20x reduction, versus SAF which can only get us about a third to a half because of all the known CO2 effects.”

Earlier this month, ZeroAvia debuted its breakthrough multi-megawatt modular electric motor system in a 1.8MW prototype configuration. Combined with higher temperature PEM fuel cells and advanced power electronics – both technologies that ZeroAvia is developing in-house – the electric motor technology is one of three key building blocks for enabling commercially-relevant hydrogen fuel cell engines for larger aircraft.
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