Image: GM

General Motors and Liebherr-Aerospace have agreed to work on the development of an electrical power generation system for aircraft applications using the HYDTROTEC hydrogen fuel cell technology.

The two firms will investigate ways to combine Liebherr’s strong position as a leading supplier of on-board aircraft systems with GM’s leadership in hydrogen fuel cell technology to produce an integrated solution tailored to the performance and cost requirements of commercial aircraft.

Liebherr-Aerospace and General Motors have inked a joint development agreement for the development of an electrical power generating system to show the viability of hydrogen fuel cell-based power systems for aircraft applications. This demonstration vehicle will utilize General Motors’ HYDROTEC hydrogen fuel cell technology. This demonstrator will be built and tested in a specialist laboratory for multi-system integration testing at Liebherr-Aerospace in Toulouse (France). The demonstrator will use GM-designed fuel cells, a HYDROTEC power cube, and a fuel cell system, as well as GM-developed controls and models.

GM, a pioneer in fuel cell technology, and Liebherr, a leader in aircraft technology integration, are collaborating on this project to reduced pollutants and noise levels compared to normal aircraft operation: both firms see a tremendous promise for fuel cell use in aviation, among other things. Through its partnership with Honda, General Motors is one of the world’s most sophisticated fuel cell innovators in a variety of industrial disciplines, including aeronautics.

GM’s fuel cell business benefits from decades of investment in engineering and manufacturing expertise, as well as high-volume manufacturing methods that enable fuel cell production to achieve economies of scale.

“Aircraft are a great litmus test for the strength and versatility of our HYDROTEC fuel cells,” said GM Executive Director – Global HYDROTEC Charlie Freese. “Our technology can address customer needs in a wide range of uses – on land, sea, air or rail, and this collaboration with Liebherr could open up new possibilities for aircraft, transitioning to alternative energy power sources.”

“The change from the conventional to a hydrogen technology-based electrical power generation system means major systems modifications on board the aircraft that could result in better, more efficient performance of the plane. This we want to prove and test thoroughly. The advantage of GM’s HYDROTEC fuel cell technology is that it has shown promise in extensive automotive and military programs, where it has shown to be reliable from the engineering and manufacturing perspectives. We are developing low emissions aerospace solutions,“ explains Francis Carla, Managing Director and Chief Technology Officer, Liebherr-Aerospace & Transportation SAS.

Nedim Husomanovic

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