Element 1 Corporation (e1) and NEXA Capital Partners LLC (NEXA) have announced a significant collaboration in the form of a joint venture called Hydrogen Aviation Development Company (HADC or the JV).
This partnership aims to commercialize e1’s groundbreaking methanol-to-hydrogen generation technology for fuel cell applications within the aerospace sector. The objectives of the joint venture include grid-independent charging for electric aircraft, airport equipment, service vehicles, and rental cars, as well as hydrogen refueling for fuel cell aircraft and ground vehicles at airports.
Under the agreement, e1 has granted HADC a worldwide exclusive license for its technology in all aerospace applications. This license empowers HADC to leverage e1’s hydrogen generation technology to charge ground-based service equipment and battery electric cars residing at airports.
The hydrogen generators deployed by HADC, licensed from e1, are the world’s only scalable generators capable of producing high-purity fuel cell-grade hydrogen from methanol. It is worth noting that methanol used in the process is increasingly sourced from renewable resources like biomass, renewable electricity, and captured carbon dioxide (CO2).
One significant challenge faced by airports is the development of grid capacity to accommodate the anticipated future demand from new hybrid electric aircraft and battery electric rental car fleets. HADC provides a viable solution for cost-effective recharge of electric aircraft, rental cars, and ground equipment, utilizing e1’s methanol-to-hydrogen technology.
Methanol, which is widely available, can be easily and safely transported to airport processing facilities. The supply chain for methanol mirrors that of current jet fuel delivery and storage systems. In a recent report, the International Air Transportation Association (IATA) highlighted hydrogen as a crucial avenue for achieving carbon neutrality in the aviation sector.
Dave Edlund, President and CEO of Element 1, emphasized the significance of their hydrogen generators coupled with fuel cells in enabling grid-independent, distributed electrical power generation that is both economical and readily deployable. He further stated that this technology provides an energy-efficient and green solution, particularly when renewable methanol is used, to address the challenge of supplying megawatts of electrical power at airports to support the transition to electrified aircraft and ground-based vehicles.
Michael Dyment, Managing Partner of NEXA, expressed his belief that hydrogen-powered electric systems are set to revolutionize aviation, much like the impact of the jet engine 60 years ago. He sees Element 1’s methanol-to-hydrogen technologies as key drivers for achieving more efficient, sustainable, and affordable air travel. NEXA’s partnership with Element 1 aims to integrate this technology into the aerospace manufacturing supply chain and leverage policies and funding from the recently enacted $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (HR 3684). The legislation calls for the development of a sector-by-sector national strategy and roadmap to facilitate a clean hydrogen economy, with explicit mention of methanol as a practical hydrogen carrier.
As Element 1 and NEXA forge ahead with their joint venture, the aerospace industry stands to benefit from the transformative potential of hydrogen-powered systems. This collaboration not only addresses the pressing need for sustainable aviation but also aligns with the global push for decarbonization and the advancement of a clean hydrogen economy.