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European Partnership

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Clean Hydrogen Partnership

Breakthrough Fuel Cell Technologies for Aviation

The Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell technology emerging from the automotive industry is of high interest for the future aeronautic industry. While automotive industry fuel cell (FC) systems are usually limited to 100 kW, aircraft require a significantly greater amount of power (multi-MW) and must operate at both different temperatures and pressures, while keeping the system’s safety and reliability levels to aeronautical standards.

BRAVA will develop breakthrough technologies for a FC-based Power Generation System (PGS) for aviation. The overall target is a high-performance PGS with a power range of over 2 MW. The foreseen future multi-MW system will be a multi-stack aircraft propulsion system. Airbus reckons that several of such multi-MW FC-based PGSs can be used to propel an aircraft capable of carrying up to 100 passengers on distances of up to 1,000 nautical miles. 
Advances in the FC stack and balance of plant components, the thermal management system, heat exchanger design and technology, and air supply system architecture, will act as building blocks for this multi-MW FC-based PGS. The key project results are:

  • New catalysts and membranes with higher performance, durability and higher operating temperature capability to enable integration into new Membrane Electrode Assemblies to reach high efficiency, low weight, compactness and long lifetime; 
  • 2-Phase cooling based thermal management system (including a newly designed fuel cell stack) for compactness, weight reduction and hence improved fuel consumption;
  • Additive manufactured heat exchangers for increased heat rejection, compactness, lightweight and low drag;
  • A new air supply architecture and components designed and optimized to provide low parasitic power and weight reduction and thus enabling lower fuel consumption and equipment cost.

Each of the breakthrough technologies for these FC system subsystems will be advanced to TRL5, i.e. technology validated in relevant environment.