ABOVE: ZeroAvia completed the initial phase of flight tests (aboard a Dorner 228 test bed) in July 2023

Hydrogen-electric aviation pioneer ZeroAvia been awarded $3.25 million in funding by the California Energy Commission (CEC) to develop a liquid hydrogen (LH2) refuelling vehicle, which will be suitable for heavy-duty use cases including aviation applications.

The project is funded by the Gas R&D Program (administered by the CEC) and authorised by the California Public Utilities Commission. Work on the project will commence at California’s Livermore Municipal Airport this month, with ZeroAvia describing the American state as representing ‘a good potential market for adoption of the first [commercial] hydrogen-electric flights’.

ZeroAvia intend to design, build and demonstrate a 10,000 litre mobile LH2 refuelling vehicle ‘with sufficient flow rates to refuel in a similar time as traditional jet fuel,’ supporting comparable turnaround times. The vehicle will also be optimised to improve on existing LH2 energy efficiency, including reducing hydrogen evaporation to less than 0.1% a day.

“This mobile LH2 refueller project is… of essential importance to ZeroAvia, the wider aviation industry, and anybody working to clean up heavy duty transportation,” said Val Miftakhov, CEO of ZeroAvia. He added that “given the gravity of the climate emergency, the rapid acceleration of clean engine technology using fuel cells must be met with optimized refuelling technologies and infrastructure to ensure speedy adoption”.

ZeroAvia is currently developing its ZA600 hydrogen-electric powerplant, targeted with supporting a 300 mile range in aircraft up to 19 seats by the end of 2025. It is also in discussions with Scottish Power to assess airport hydrogen supply cases in the UK, and exploring cryogenically-stored hydrogen storage and refuelling with technology startup Verne.