ZeroAvia reveals oxygen compressor for hydrogen fuel cell aviation


ZeroAvia has developed a compressor for hydrogen fuel cell-based aviation propulsion systems, such as its ZA600 hydrogen-electric powertrain.

Initial testing of ZeroAvia’s compressor (pictured inset) shows it supports fuel cell systems up to 900kW. One key challenge of hydrogen fuel cell-based aviation is delivering a high flow of oxygen to the cell stacks. ZeroAvia’s “breakthrough” enables the company to integrate the technology as a core part of its first two hydrogen-electric engines: ZA600 and ZA2000.

Rudolf Coertze, chief technical officer Hydrogen, ZeroAvia, said: “The compressor technology we have designed is critical in delivering optimal performance in the final, certified ZA600 engine technology. Our compressor is an important component of our fuel cell power generation systems, and a world-leading technology advancement for clean aviation in its own right. This really is a major achievement for our turbomachinery engineers and another marquee moment for the company at large.”

The compressor runs on the power provided by the electric propulsion system, meaning there is no need for an additional inverter and electric motor. The reduction in complexity will also smooth certification of ZeroAvia’s powertrains. Also few components means less weight.

The performance to date means ZeroAvia is confident the powertrain design will deliver commercial and environmental benefits to operators. It is also panning to leverage the technology to enable enhanced testing of its HTPEM fuel cell stacks for ZA2000 and larger fixed wing and rotorcraft applications.

ZeroAvia plans certification testing to begin over the course of the next year.

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