On March 09, 2023, ZeroAvia, one of the leaders in zero-emission aviation, announced it has accomplished record-breaking performance in its High-Temperature Proton Exchange Membrane (HTPEM) systems testing. The previous testing of the pressurized 20kW HTPEM stack power module at ZeroAvia's UK R&D facility discovered a record of 2.5 kW/kg specific power at the level of the cell, which will set the standard for system-level densities of 3 kW/kg or more within the next two years.
Fuel cell technology for aviation development is critical to enable accurate zero-emission commercial flight and energy-intensive applications such as sizeable fixed-wing aircraft and rotorcraft. Therefore, increasing the temperature and pressure within fuel cell stacks is necessary for a commercially viable product. Increased temperature and pressure enable air cooling, simplify the system, reduce cooling drag, and ultimately enable significantly more rigorous applications.
By delivering a pressurized HTPEM system, the team at ZeroAvia has made ground-breaking advances in deep technology. Additionally, innovative conductive coatings enable using aluminum bipolar plates in aggressive HTPEM environments and a novel membrane electrode assembly (MEA) technique.
ZeroAvia's proprietary technology has been developed in the past three years as part of a concentrated effort to create an in-house portfolio of critical technology for fuel cell aviation. Further R&D will deliver a fuel cell system with a specific power of over 3 kW/kg, enabling a step change in performance relative to conventional fuel cell technologies and making fuel cell propulsion commercially feasible for large aircraft. To support prime candidates for ZeroAvia's ZA2000 powertrain for 40-80 seater airplanes, a range of rotorcraft and eVTOL applications, it will be the HTPEM. This next generation of fuel cells may also be adequate to enable electric propulsion systems for single-aisle turbofan aircraft with more than 100 seats, such as the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737.
ZeroAvia is one of the leading zero-emission aviation focusing on hydroelectric solutions. The company, based in Hollister (California) enables scalable, sustainable aviation by replacing conventional engines with hydrogen-electric powertrains from 19-seater regional flights to more than 100-seater long-distance flights. It has already obtained experimental certificates from the CAA and FAA for its two prototype aircraft, passed momentous flight test milestones, secured a number of key partnerships with leading aircraft OEMs and global airlines, and is on track to begin commercial operations in 2025.