Highest-Density Fuel Cells for Trucks to Be Tested on Aircraft for the First Time

What could a truck company and an aviation company have in common? In the case of Hyzon Motors and ZeroAvia – fuel cells. Hyzon’s fuel cell stack will be used to propel, literally and figuratively, ZeroAvia’s future hydrogen-electric aircraft.

7 photosHighest-Density Fuel Cells for Trucks to Be Tested on Aircraft for the First TimeThe fuel cell stack doesn’t care what it powers” – a memorable quote, coming from Hyzon CEO Craig Knight, which attests to the versatility of this power source.

A real buzzword these days, in the automotive industry, fuel cells are seen by some as the Holy Grail of zero-emissions mobility. It’s precisely this versatility that makes it possible for an aircraft manufacturer to test fuel cells initially developed for trucks.

Hyzon is known for its hydrogen-powered heavy-duty trucks, buses and coaches, and big, record-breaking goals. Earlier this year, a 154-ton Hyzon truck, considered to be the heaviest hydrogen fuel cell-powered truck in the world, was delivered to a European customer.

Later on, the company also announced its plans for breaking the 1,000-mile record on a hydrogen-powered truck. The remarkable thing about this Rochester-based company is that it uses its own fuel cells. For over two decades, Hyzon has been researching and testing various components and improvements in performance metrics.

The result was what Hyzon claims to be the highest-density fuel-cell stack on the market, validated as such by a third-party testing authority, TUV Rheinland. Now, Hyzon’s Gen3 fuel cell stack will be tested for hybrid aircraft, as the result of an agreement between Hyzon and ZeroAvia. Based in the UK and the U.S., the aviation company is planning to launch the largest (19-seat) hybrid-powered aircraft today, by 2024.

At the heart of this innovative aircraft is the company’s 600 kW powertrain, which was recently tested in a surprising demonstration. ZeroAvia will first test the Gen3 fuel cell stack through simulated airplane duty cycles, in various conditions. Then, once these tests are successfully completed, the fuel cell will be tested in flight.

With a volumetric power density over 6.0 kW/liter, and a gravimetric power density of more than 5.5 kW/kg, Hyzon’s fuel cell stack is presented as being above industry standards.

It will be interesting to see whether it can be used just as effectively for hybrid-electric aircraft.