Project Fresson welcomes partners to fuel cell flight programme

Cranfield Aerospace Solutions has welcomed two new partners to the Project Fresson consortium which is developing a commercially viable fuel cell solution for the nine-passenger Britten-Norman Islander aircraft.

Project Fresson
Image: CAeS

According to CAeS, Ricardo UK will bring expertise in fuel cell system development and Innovatus Technologies will provide its Scottish Hydrogen Fuel Tank (SHyFT) technology.

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“We are already working on hydrogen and fuel cell technology, providing clean efficient solutions which reduce carbon and noxious emissions across a wide range of sectors,” said Steve Dyke, managing director, Ricardo Automotive and Industrial EMEA Division. “Our work for the Fresson consortium will enable us to consolidate and grow our hydrogen fuel cell and propulsion capability, so that Ricardo can achieve its ambition of becoming a world-leader in hydrogen and fuel cell services and solutions and help accelerate net zero transportation.”

Innovatus Technologies has developed a ‘next generation’ ultra-lightweight hydrogen tank that exploits patented cellular core composite techniques and is described by CAeS as ‘critical to the successful integration and exploitation of hydrogen fuel cell power systems’.

Project Fresson aims to deliver a zero CO2, hydrogen-fuel-cell-powered flying demonstrator by September 2022. Having completed a comprehensive evaluation of technologies and configurations for sustainable aircraft propulsion, the Fresson team concluded that hydrogen fuel cell technology is the optimum solution to meet environmental, regulatory and operational requirements for this size of aircraft. According to CAeS, this has presented the Fresson consortium, which includes Britten Norman and Cranfield University, with an opportunity to deliver an enhanced technology programme that surpasses the original demonstrator concept.

“Covid-19 has caused the biggest crisis in aviation’s history,” said Jenny Kavanagh, chief strategy officer, CAeS. “It’s important that, as the sector builds back better, it does so with sustainability at its heart. Project Fresson is more than just a technology demonstrator; it has one focus above all others: real operational and commercial viability.”