The race to zero-emission air travel has a new player on the block

In what can be termed a further boost to ever-expanding technology in sustainable zero-emission air travel, Hydroplane Ltd. has announced that it is working on a powertrain which is based on hydrogen fuel cell technology. According to the company, the powertrain can be easily retrofitted on existing general aviation aircraft.

Representative I Eurocontrol

We are completely decarbonizing air travel

said Hydroplane CEO and founder Anita Sengupta

Tech and specs

The modular Hydrogen Fuel Cell Power Plant being developed by the company can be used for General Aviation, Urban Air Mobility and on Vertical Lift platforms.

The technology which features an H2 ion battery will split the gas to create hydrogen ions that flow through a battery system to generate around 200 kilowatts of energy, resulting in water being the only by-product of the process. According to the company, their unique design also addresses PEM thermal management, durability, and cost for the aircraft owner/operator.

Representative I Bloomberg

Batteries and other forms of power storage are generally huge and it can be difficult to use substantial energy storage on aircraft. Moreover, battery-powered aircraft have limited range, a low payload fraction and reduced operational efficiency due to charge time. This design reportedly mitigates all of these operational hurdles.

The key to decarbonizing aircraft is energy storage. Conventional lithium-ion batteries only last about an hour in flying time, which means you can only fly about 100 miles or so. Hydrogen fuel cells have 10 times the energy storage for the same amount of mass, which allows you to fly for much longer times and therefore cover much longer distances

said Sengupta

Protium technical specifications

Range1000 km
Cruising speed200 kph
Aircraft TypeSingle-engine land
MissionRegional air-taxi/ UAM
Payload4 Crew
PilotCommercial SEL
Flight control2 Axis auto pilot
Power systemH2 Fuel Cell electric propulsion

Plans are underway to subject the hydrogen fuel cell technology to rigorous testing processes. With an eventual goal of obtaining a certification for the company’s hydrogen fuel cell technology for use in existing general aviation aircraft, Dr. Sengupta plans to hold the first heavy flight testing using the H2 Tech in Piper Aircraft Inc. general aviation planes at some point in 2023.

Piper I Representative I Aviation International News

Key features of this technology include:

  • Electric Aviation with Regional Range and No Charging of Batteries
  • Operational performance similar to AV Gas
  • Automotive Tech Synergy in Electric Motor and Power Distribution Components
  • Modularity enables up to 1MW Power
  • Can be certified under FAA part 23
  • Zero carbon emissions
  • Reduced noise signature
  • Longer flight time/further range than battery-powered engines

According to Sengupta, Hydroplane’s technology extends the maximum range to 600 miles, which is a perfect fit for the company’s 200- to the 500-mile range for the majority of general aviation travel.

Hydroplane is on track to fly its demonstrator aircraft in 2023.


About Hydroplane

Hydroplane Ltd. is a minority woman-owned small business with a mission to make aviation carbon emission-free, founded by former NASA propulsion systems engineer Dr. Anita Sengupta. Following a short time as a Virgin Hyperloop senior vice president of systems engineering. Sengupta moved on from the magnetic levitation train developer to work on her projects, launching Hydroplane in early 2020.

Dr Anita Sengupta

Hydroplane’s 200 kW modular solution is designed to replace existing combustion powerplants in today’s existing single-engine and urban air mobility platforms, while simultaneously delivering a significant improvement in range, endurance, and payload over the battery-powered equivalent.


COVER: The Manufacturer

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