Universal Hydrogen, co-founded in California in 2020 by the former technical director of Airbus, Paul Eremenko, has just inaugurated a 3,000-square-meter workshop and its European headquarters adjacent to the runways at Toulouse-Blagnac airport.
Since its establishment in Toulouse in October, the company has recruited former Airbus executives to design removable gaseous or liquid hydrogen tanks for the Dash 8 from Bombardier, ATR 72 from Airbus and Leonardo, and the ATR 72 from Airbus and Leonardo. These propeller aircraft with 45 to 78 seats will have their turboprops replaced with electric motors fueled by fuel cells.
The small firm has already secured $85 million from FFI Mining, Airbus Ventures, JetBlue Ventures, Power Plug, and others. It employs 90 employees in the United States to develop the gaseous hydrogen module, the propulsion chain, and the Dash 8 conversion, and 25 individuals in Toulouse to design the liquid hydrogen tanks and the ATR 72 conversion.
Reduce the price of green hydrogen
Universal Hydrogen also constructed the power chain by including MagniX fuel cells and motors. It has already incorporated a 1-megawatt propulsion system, which will be flight-tested on a Dash 8 by the end of the year in preparation for certification in 2025. It is necessary to cut the price of green hydrogen, which is currently twice as expensive as kerosene.
The startup provides airlines with aircraft modification and a fuel supply contract. It has received intent letters from 15 firms and lessors to convert 200 ATR and Dash 8 aircraft. Amelia, Air Nostrum, and American Connect ordered the conversion of 75 ATR 72-600 aircraft in 2025, plus an additional 25 as options. ATR, on the other hand, did not purchase the conversion and instead utilized SAF vegetable fuel.