UK govt invests $113M in cutting-edge tech for hydrogen-powered flights

A $113 million investment announced by the Business and Transport Secretaries on 7 February will be used to explore cutting-edge new technologies in the UK that could allow electric flying taxis and hydrogen-powered aircraft to take to the sky.

Government and business are supporting innovative zero-carbon solutions through the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) Program in order to pave the way for future guilt-free air travel. This includes initiatives headed by Rolls-Royce to develop the components of a liquid hydrogen-combusting jet engine, which would permit flight without producing carbon emissions, as well as work by Bristol-based Vertical Aerospace to create high-end, lightweight batteries.

These successful initiatives, which span the UK from Belfast to Derby, will ensure thousands of jobs across the supply chain and hundreds of millions of dollars in private investment, boosting the economy of the nation and positioning us at the forefront of cutting global aviation emissions.

The most recent practical triumph of the ATI Programme was the January inaugural flight of ZeroAvia’s hydrogen fuel cell-powered 19-seater aircraft.

In addition, the Department of Transport has issued a Call for Evidence to get opinions from the industry on how to meet the goal of having zero emissions from airport operations in England by 2040. As part of the government’s Jet Zero Strategy, which was introduced in July of last year, the goal was established.

The investment will be disclosed at the seventh meeting of the Jet Zero Council, an industry-government partnership created to accelerate efforts to achieve zero-emission flight by 2050 through investment and a focus on cutting-edge technologies and environmentally friendly aviation fuels as outlined in the Jet Zero Strategy. The Council is utilizing the UK’s industry-leading aerospace and aviation sectors, which before the pandemic employed 230,000 people and generated £22 billion in Gross Value Added (GVA) for the UK economy, to effectively combat emissions while promoting development and environmentally friendly innovation.

New data modeling tool from Boeing

The discussion is being held at Boeing’s London offices today, underscoring the significance of aerospace companies to the UK’s goals for growth and job creation. Over 3,000 highly skilled workers are employed by Boeing in the UK across 30 important locations, and the company invests approximately £2 billion a year in the supply chain for high-value aerospace export parts.

Boeing, who is hosting the Council, will present Cascade, a new data modeling tool that enables users to visualize several decarbonization plans on the path to net zero emissions, at the meeting today. Cascade supports the transition to net-zero by 2050 by assisting airline operators, policymakers, and industry partners in making informed decisions. Using scenarios for the 5 core strategies of renewable energy, airplane fleet renewal, future aircraft and advanced technologies, operational efficiency improvements, and market-based measures, the tool calculates full life-cycle accounting of all climate effects and shows that SAF must meet the 2050 commitment while continuing to invest in hydrogen, electric, and advanced technologies.

The government’s SAF program has undergone substantial developments since the last meeting. Five businesses received a portion of the Department of Transportation’s $165 million Advanced Fuels Fund at the end of the previous year, and projects from Teesside to Ellesmere Port received financing to construct facilities that will turn home and commercial waste into jet fuel.

Government funds will also be provided to Virgin Atlantic in order to conduct the first-ever net-zero transatlantic trip using just SAF. This year, the UK will serve as the departure point for the London to New York trip.

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