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Aiming for the sky! Using Hydrogen for zero-emission aviation

Aviation accounts for over 12% of all emissions within the transportation sector, and it may double by 2050.

Aircraft release their emissions at high altitudes which give them up to 4 times the impact of emissions released at ground level.

Without a replacement solution to the fuel-powered jet engine, the aviation market appears to be heading into a sustainability crisis. This is where some Startups are concentrating their efforts, working to de-carbonise commercial aviation.
One of the most promising alternatives to a hydrocarbon fuelled jet engine is one powered by a Hydrogen-fuel cell. Powering aircraft efficiently, with less noise than a traditional engine, and with water as the only by-product, it is looking like the most promising replacement. 

Leading the developments is ZeroAvia, a prominent company in zero-emission aviation, focused on hydrogen-electric aviation solutions to address a variety of markets.

ZeroAvia’s hydrogen fuel cell-powered flight at Cranfield on 24th September 2020
Photo courtesy of ZeroAvia


Based in London and California, ZeroAvia has already secured experimental certificates for its two-prototype aircraft, passed significant flight test milestones such as its successful world’s first hydrogen-electric flight in September 2020, and is on track for commercial operations in 2023.
The company’s expanding UK operations are partially supported by the grant from the UK’s Aerospace Technology Institute and Innovate UK, and ZeroAvia is part of the UK Government’s Jet Zero Council.
For more, please visit ZeroAvia, follow @ZeroAvia on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.



More futuristic options for air travel are being worked on by Alaka’i Technologies a pioneer in the air mobility sector based in Hopkinton, MA. Their vision is to make air mobility an everyday option for millions of people while minimizing the environmental impact.

Founded in 2006, Alaka’i’s key advantage has always been its people, with core team members having served in top-level positions at NASA, Raytheon, and Beechcraft. Through their efforts, they have developed a prototype (Named Skai) for a future travel option to be used for shorter distances. 

They too - like ZeroAvia, are using hydrogen fuel cells, to provide a truly clean energy solution. It is a radically simple air mobility system designed to go from A to Anywhere. It is the first hydrogen-powered eVTOL (electric vertical takeoff and landing) vehicle and service. 


GKN Aerospace is leading a ground-breaking UK collaboration programme, called H2GEAR, to develop the company’s first hydrogen-propulsion system for sub-regional aircraft.

Airbus A350-1000 on flying display at Paris Airshow 2017
Photo courtesy of GKN Aerospace

H2GEAR puts GKN Aerospace at the heart of the technology developments needed for the future of more sustainable aviation. The technology will first focus on significantly improving sub-regional aircraft hydrogen powered performance, in turn enabling applications on larger aircraft and longer journeys. The programme is supported by £27M of ATI funding, matched by GKN Aerospace and its industrial partners.

H2GEAR will reinforce the UK’s position at the forefront of aerospace technology research and development. GKN Aerospace will collaborate with Intelligent EnergyAeristechNewcastle University, The University of Manchester and University of Birmingham, throughout the programme, aiming to create more than 3,000 jobs in the next decade. The programme will be delivered from GKN Aerospace’s Global Technology Centre in Bristol, the company’s £32M brand-new collaborative space for research and development.

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.

They believe that the entry-into-service of the first hydrogen-powered aircraft could be as early as 2026.