Project HEART targets H2 flight infrastructure for UK

A new partnership has come together to develop the infrastructure to enable hydrogen-powered flight in the UK.  

Project HEART will target regional airports initially
Project HEART will target regional airports initially - Protium

Known as Project HEART, the R&D programme will see Protium overseeing the hydrogen infrastructure at a South Wales site called Pioneer 2. There, Protium will integrate a hydrogen compression system from the UK’s Haskel with an electrolyser provided by Norway’s Nel Hydrogen. The end-to-end H2 solution will encompass off-site hydrogen production, its transfer to site, and refuelling of fuel cell-electric propulsion aircraft via a mobile refueller.

The initial focus for Project HEART will be regional airports, targeting aircraft with a capacity of 9-19 passengers and a range of around 500 miles. Operations are planned to begin in mid-2024. According to Nel, it will be the company’s largest electrolyser deployment in the UK to date.

“Project HEART represents the first MW green hydrogen generation project in the UK to begin production, with planned operation to start in mid-2024,” said Spencer Lambrecht, global proposal manager at Nel Hydrogen.

“Nel’s containerised MW system is based upon its safe and reliable PEM technology that has been utilised historically for the English naval fleet. With over 25 years of experience in hydrogen generation, Nel is excited to support Project HEART on this first-of-its-kind system.”

Project HEART is part funded via UK Research & Innovation’s Future Flight Challenge (FFC), run by Innovate UK. The £300m programme was established to help accelerate the introduction of advanced air mobility (AAM), drones, and electric sub-regional aircraft in the UK, including hydrogen-powered fuel cell aircraft.

“Project HEART is delivering cutting-edge R&D solutions, showcasing how hydrogen could very soon become a key part of aviation and an enabler for Net Zero travel,” said Simon Masters, deputy director for the Future Flight Challenge.

“We are delighted to be working with Protium, Haskel and other project partners to deliver this vital research, which is an important step towards the introduction of hydrogen for passenger aircraft operations.”