FuelCell – Hydrogen-powered planes firm aims to make East Midlands centre of fuel cell manufacturing
A company that makes hydrogen fuel cells to power everything from cars and bikes to homes and phones is helping make the East Midlands a centre of UK fuel cell manufacturing.
Loughborough-based Intelligent Energy is part of the H2GEAR programme to push hydrogen technology for zero emission planes which could be taking to the air within five years, Business Live reports.
The £54 million collaboration is being led by GKN Aerospace and could create up to 3,000 jobs over the next decade in Bristol, Coventry and Loughborough.
Government backing was signed off this week.
Intelligent Energy has been established for around a decade, helping make the East Midlands a centre of UK fuel cell manufacturing.
The H2GEAR programme will develop a hydrogen propulsion system which creates electricity to power motors in smaller aircraft. The only by-product is water. If the technology can be used efficiently, it will be stepped up to be used on bigger aircraft and for longer journeys.
The programme is being supported by £27 million of Aerospace Technology Institute funding, which is being matched by GKN Aerospace, Intelligent Energy and the other programme partners.
If the programme can create the next generation of clean air travel, it will play big part in eliminating harmful CO2 emissions from aviation.
Intelligent Energy and GKN Aerospace are working with Aeristech, Newcastle University, The University of Manchester and University of Birmingham on the programme, which is being delivered from GKN Aerospace’s £32 million Global Technology Centre in Bristol.
Intelligent Energy chief executive David Woolhouse said: “We have a very exciting programme of work over the next few years, including developing leading lightweight fuel cell modules for aerospace.
“This programme will see us develop the next generation of fuel cell technology and supports the growth of manufacturing right here in the East Midlands.
“We are planning to increase our manufacturing capability with a new state-of-the-art gigafactory facility in the region, positioning the East Midlands as a centre of hydrogen fuel cell manufacturing in the UK. The entry-into-service of the first hydrogen-powered aircraft could be as early as 2026.”
Russ Dunn, chief technology officer for GKN Aerospace, said: “Hydrogen-powered aircraft offer a clear route to keep the world connected, with dramatically cleaner skies.
“The UK is at the forefront of this technology, and the H2GEAR project is an example of industry, academia and Government collaboration at its best.
“Working with our partners, and made possible by Government investment, GKN Aerospace will develop and industrialise the breakthrough technology to fly aircraft with zero CO2 emissions by the mid-2020s.
“This will not only create thousands of jobs, but it will keep the UK at the forefront of the next generation of cleaner air travel for decades to come.”