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ZeroAvia to test hydrogen–electric regional jets with MHIRJ

British-American hydrogen aircraft manufacturer ZeroAvia has identified applications for hydrogen-electric, zero-emission propulsion for regional jet aircraft.

The hydrogen-electric CRJ aircraft would be equipped with two ZeroAvia regional jet engines (derivatives of the ZA2000 engine class) to match the existing performance, and ZeroAvia analysis suggests it could support up to 60 passengers with a range of up to 560 nautical miles, covering more than 80% of current flights.

The company has also identified an initial entry point for a CRJ 700 retrofit with ZeroAvia’s ZA 2000RJ powertrain, confirming the maximum takeoff weight, center of gravity and structural allowance. The results come from a technical study conducted alongside Type Certificate holder MHIRJ over the last year.

The study also identified opportunities for onboard hydrogen fuel storage and powertrain integration to ensure the preservation of aircraft aerodynamics. ​The technical assessment found that the loss of turbine core thrust could be overcome within the constraints of the original airframe with increased fan diameter, while further efficiency gains were possible by adopting novel propulsor technologies such as geared, ducted electric fan or open rotor designs.

The assumptions based on the Phase 1 study included HTPEM fuel cell system-specific power of 2.4 kW/kg. ZeroAvia has already achieved 2.5 kW/kg at the cell level of its HTPEM stacks and plans to deliver 3 kW/kg system-level specific power within two years.

ZeroAvia’s prototype ZA2000 hydrogen-electric system for 40-80 seat regional turboprop aircraft will soon be tested aboard a 76-seat Dash 8-400, with a target of certifying the technology for use as early as 2027.

“There is some payload and range compromise, but this technical study confirms a viable propulsion architecture and integration which could be transformational,” said Val Miftakhov, CEO of ZeroAvia. “Before the end of the decade, airlines could be flying zero-emission jets.”

Source: ZeroAvia

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