Universal Hydrogen Tests 1 MW Fuel Cell Propulsion System with Liquid Hydrogen at Mojave Air & Space Port

Feb. 29, 2024
The company used its proprietary liquid hydrogen module to supply the fuel to an iron bird ground test rig for over 1 hour and 40 minutes

Universal Hydrogen has successfully operated a 1 MW class fuel cell powertrain using its proprietary liquid hydrogen module to supply the fuel at the Mojave Air & Space Port, as part of its plan to enter passenger service by 2026.

The liquid hydrogen module powered the company’s iron bird ground test rig, a functional analog of the powertrain, for over 1 hour and 40 minutes, simulating a regional aircraft flight profile. 

The module holds fuel to power the iron bird for over three hours at full power, with two such modules sufficient for 500 nautical miles of usable range (on top of reserves) for an ATR72 regional airliner. 

The module was developed at Universal Hydrogen’s engineering and design center in Toulouse, France, and is the core of the company’s fuel services offerings for the aviation industry.

While it internalizes all the complexity of managing cryogenic hydrogen, the module presents a simple container interface compatible with existing intermodal freight and airport cargo handling equipment externally. 

The module contains approximately 200 kg of liquid hydrogen and is capable of storing it for long durations without boiloff. It not only contains systems to convert cryogenic liquid hydrogen into warm gaseous hydrogen consumed by the powertrain but also incorporates features like hydrogen leak detection and venting systems for safe operations, as well as a leak-proof quick-connect for easy installation and removal of the module from the aircraft.

“This end-to-end demonstration of a hydrogen molecule moving from our filler/dispenser into our storage module and then into our powertrain is the first time that all the pieces of our product portfolio for regional aviation have come together,” said Paul Eremenko, Co-Founder and CEO of Universal Hydrogen. “The next step is to upgrade our flight testbed to fly the powertrain fueled by our modules.”