Under this partnership, the companies plan to develop, build, and certify a commercially-viable hydrogen fuel cell-based propulsion system designed to power commercial regional aircraft.
This initiative is part of Plug Power’s strategy to bring its proven hydrogen ProGen fuel cell technology to new markets through engaging leaders in industries such as commercial aviation and aerospace. This partnership also furthers Plug Power’s ambitions to build a hydrogen economy.
Bringing together Universal Hydrogen’s aerospace expertise with Plug Power’s fuel cell stack technology and systems capabilities, the partnership aims to certify and fly the world’s first 2 megawatt hydrogen-electric aircraft powertrain. The carbon-free propulsion system incorporates a lightweight Plug Power ProGen-based hydrogen fuel cell stack designed for aerospace applications and Universal Hydrogen’s modular hydrogen distribution and fuel delivery system. This technology will enable a converted mid-sized regional turboprop aircraft (such as the Dash 8 or ATR42/72 families) to fly missions up to 1,000 km. This range serves over 90 percent of existing routes, and is far longer than what would be achievable with battery power alone.
As part of this program, Universal Hydrogen and Plug Power will integrate and test a full-scale, ground-based powertrain prototype—or iron bird. After a successful ground demonstration, the teams will retrofit the powertrain into the aircraft with flight test completion and regulatory approval under a supplemental type certificate (STC) expected by 2024.
Andy Marsh, Plug Power CEO, says:
“As we enter the aerospace domain, we’re thrilled to be working with Universal Hydrogen and its proven team of experts. Through this partnership, we are taking our first steps toward establishing a complete ecosystem for the aviation market, from powertrain to hydrogen solutions, ultimately enabling a global transportation system powered by green hydrogen.”
Paul Eremenko, CEO and Co-founder of Universal Hydrogen, says:
“As Universal Hydrogen builds out a scalable hydrogen fuel distribution network for aviation, our partnership with Plug Power will provide a key market entry point for hydrogen-powered passenger flight. We’re excited to partner with Plug Power, a proven leader in the growing hydrogen economy as we push to make carbon-free commercial flight a near-term reality.”
This initiative comes as Plug Power is significantly growing its aerospace fuel cell system capabilities, in line with the company’s vertical integration strategy. As part of this effort, Plug Power is expanding its ProGen platform for additional aerospace applications, including UAVs and aircraft with different weight restrictions and other unique requirements.