Bath joins UK consortium spearheading hydrogen fuel system development for aviation

HyFIVE group funded with £37 million to support zero-emission flight in the UK

    Published on Wednesday 27 March 2024

    Last updated on Wednesday 27 March 2024

The University of Bath is set to play a key role in a new consortium that will support the development and introduction of zero-emission aviation in the UK.

The HyFIVE consortium, led by Marshall and including GKN Aerospace and Parker Meggitt, will make use of the specialised research and development capability at Bath, as well as at partners at the University of Manchester and Cardiff University.

The group will develop a world-leading hydrogen fuel system and accompanying supply chain, with the goal of supporting zero-emission aviation in the 2030s.

Announced this month by Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt, the consortium will receive initial funding of £37 million, with an investment of £17 million from industry to be matched with £20 million from government.

Bath will receive an initial £1.8 million to form a team to carry out research for the project, ahead of taking part in research and testing to bring an integrated fuel system to the point of ground testing in 2027.

Professor Carl Sangan , Principal Investigator for HyFIVE at the University of Bath, said: "We are delighted and very privileged to have been selected as a full partner on this project, which promises to fulfil so many opportunities presented by Hydrogen-fuelled aircraft and net zero flight.

"HyFIVE is an ideal platform on which to leverage and build upon the University of Bath’s growing capability and expertise as a place of nationally leading research and expertise in hydrogen energy storage and fuelling.

"Our role is primarily to develop the hydromechanical side of the hydrogen pumps and other fluidic devices, while also contributing significantly to cryogenic material selection and assessment of the associated thermal challenges within a hydrogen fuel system."

Professor Tim Ibell, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering , added: "The prize on offer from this consortium is nothing less than sustainable aviation, and it is fabulous to see such scale and ambition in HyFIVE. The University of Bath involvement cements our positioning as leaders in the role which Hydrogen can and must play in transforming various industries towards a sustainable future. With great challenge comes great imagination, and this project represents exactly this."

Welcoming the announcement, Industry Minister Nusrat Ghani said: "This is another win for our world-leading aerospace sector, cementing the UK’s position at the forefront of zero emissions technology and taking the UK to new heights in the pursuit of cleaner, greener air travel."

Jacqueline Castle, Chief Technology Officer of the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), said: "The HyFIVE programme is primed to solve the significant technical, safety, certification and industrialisation challenges associated with the application of LH2 in aviation and those identified by our FlyZero programme and Destination Zero strategy.

"The HyFIVE team will work in parallel with key regulatory frameworks and infrastructure projects, including the ATI’s own Hydrogen Capability Network, to ensure the UK maximises the gains from such a significant industrial research project." Pioneering zero-emission flight

The overarching objective of the HyFIVE consortium is to develop, test and validate a modular, scalable cryogenic hydrogen fuel system architecture that is suitable for multiple aircraft classes and compatible with either hydrogen electric propulsion or hydrogen combustion powertrains.

Specifically, the collaboration will cover five key aspects of technology development for hydrogen fuel systems: storage, conveyance, indication, fuelling and venting.

The HyFIVE consortium members have defined a full technical programme spanning several years, starting with initial architecture development and supplier engagement and running all the way through to ground testing and final design review for the integrated fuel system.

By 2027 the consortium plans to have:

    developed and validated an integrated family of mature fuel system technologies and capabilities conducive to certification;

    conducted ground demonstration of an integrated fuel system encompassing the storage, conveyance, indication, venting and fuelling systems;

    opened a range of flight demonstration and exploitation paths with prospective customers; and

    developed a customer-ready supply chain and industrialisation strategy.

Timely achievement of these objectives will support the successful introduction of a new generation of zero emissions aircraft in the 2030s.

Building on complementary strengths

The HyFIVE collaboration is structured to take advantage of each industry partner’s unique capabilities.

The University of Bath, the University of Manchester and Cardiff University have been selected for their world-leading research capabilities and advanced testing facilities in areas such as hydrogen-electric propulsion, cryogenic applications, power transmission, turbomachinery and next-generation material development.

Bath will also seek to harness the capabilities of its academics carrying out hydrogen-related research, including projects and research centres such as UK-HyRES , ZENITH , new research institute IAAPS: Propulsion and Mobility, the Centre for Digital, Manufacturing and Design (DMaDe) and the Centre for Integrated Materials, Processes and Structures (IMPS) .

Bath’s success in joining the HyFIVE project was underpinned by the state-of-the-art testing facilities at IAAPS , a world-leading research and innovation facility at Bristol & Bath Science Park linked to the University.

Ten Bath academics, with expertise in materials engineering, turbomachinery and fluid power will be involved in the project.