Ricardo works with UK consortium to deliver world’s first truly green passenger carrying airline services using hydrogen fuel cell technology

Ricardo works with UK consortium to deliver world’s first truly green passenger carrying airline services using hydrogen fuel cell technology
30 March 2021
Project Freeson green passenger airline

Demonstrating that sustainable propulsion technology has a clear route to market, the Cranfield Aerospace Solutions led consortium’s technology programme will accelerate the journey to zero-emissions, passenger-carrying service.

Cranfield Aerospace Solutions (CAeS) - the UK SME leading the Project Fresson consortium - announces it will exploit recent advances in hydrogen fuel cell technology to develop a commercially viable, retrofit powertrain solution for the nine-passenger Britten-Norman Islander aircraft.

Following a rigorous assessment of hydrogen technology innovators, CAeS is delighted to welcome Ricardo and Innovatus Technologies Ltd to the Fresson consortium. Ricardo brings expertise in fuel cell system development and Innovatus Technologies Ltd brings their innovative Scottish Hydrogen Fuel Tank (SHyFT) technology. Innovatus Technologies Ltd leads the field in next generation ultralightweight hydrogen tank design exploiting patented cellular core composite techniques. This is critical to the successful integration and exploitation of hydrogen fuel cell power systems in applications across aerospace, automotive, industrial, and marine sectors.

Project Fresson will deliver an emissions-free (zero CO2), hydrogen-fuel-cell-powered flying demonstrator by September 2022. Having completed a comprehensive evaluation of technologies and configurations for sustainable aircraft propulsion, the Fresson team concluded that hydrogen fuel cell technology is the optimum solution to meet environmental, regulatory and operational requirements for this size of aircraft, enabling zero carbon emissions and reducing operating costs. This has presented the Fresson consortium, which includes Britten Norman and Cranfield University, with an opportunity to deliver an enhanced technology programme that surpasses the original demonstrator concept.

Stephen Dyke, Managing Director Ricardo Automotive and Industrial EMEA Division said: “We are proud to join the Cranfield Aerospace Solutions consortium to play our part in helping to reduce the carbon footprint for commercial air passengers. We are already working on hydrogen and fuel cell technology, providing clean efficient solutions which reduce carbon and noxious emissions across a wide range of sectors. Our work for the Fresson consortium will enable us to consolidate and grow our hydrogen fuel cell and propulsion capability, so that Ricardo can achieve its ambition of becoming a world-leader in hydrogen and fuel cell services and solutions and help accelerate net zero transportation.”

Read the consortium press release