HyPoint, a hydrogen fuel cell expert, has signed a $6.5 million agreement with Piasecki Aircraft Corporation to develop a hydrogen fuel cell system for zero-emission electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft.
In a joint statement, the partners stated that their goal was to develop a zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell system for eVTOL applications that has four times the energy density of existing lithium-ion batteries, twice the specific power of alternative hydrogen fuel cell systems, and half the operating costs of a traditional turbine-powered rotorcraft.
They also intend to collaborate in order to obtain the system certified by the Federal Aviation Administration, the US civil aviation regulator.
Due to its dependency on compressed air for cooling, HyPoint is currently developing a hydrogen fuel cell system for aviation and urban air mobility that it claims can enable longer air travels while claiming lower maintenance costs than rival battery and hydrogen fuel cell technologies.
The California-based startup claims that its fuel cell system can offer more than 2,000 watts per kilogram of specific power, which is more than treble the power-to-weight of standard liquid-cooled hydrogen fuel cell systems, while also delivering 1,500 watt-hours of energy density.
Earlier this year, HyPoint unveiled a prototype of the ground-breaking technology, confirming its aim to begin distributing the full-scale version of its hydrogen fuel cell system to aircraft manufacturers the following year. The company has already collaborated with ZeroAvia, a British zero-emission aviation startup that achieved the first hydrogen-electric passenger aircraft flight above Bedfordshire last year.
Piasecki’s president and CEO, John Piasecki, expressed optimism that the business will be able to integrate HyPoint’s technology in its PA-890 eVTOL Compound Helicopter, a manned hydrogen-powered helicopter that the company wants to bring to market by 2025.
The acquisition, according to HyPoint founder and CEO Alex Ivanenko, would assist bring new types of aircraft to market, noting that the “much-anticipated” debut of eVTOL aircraft has been hindered by the constraints of existing power systems.
Piasecki has also signed an agreement with the US Air Force to develop advanced hydrogen-powered aeronautical technology, and is actively working with the FAA to define certification standards for eVTOL aircraft. When deliveries commence, the PA-890 is expected to be the world’s first manned hydrogen-powered helicopter.