ZeroAvia today announced that Airbus, Barclays Sustainable Impact Capital and NEOM have led the company’s latest financing round. Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Horizons Ventures, Alaska Airlines, Ecosystem Integrity Fund, Summa Equity, AP Ventures and Amazon Climate Pledge Fund have also participated in the investment.
This will enable ZeroAvia to accelerate progress towards certification of its first engine as well as delivering the company’s mission of a hydrogen-electric engine in aircraft.
Airbus and ZeroAvia will tackle a number of critical technical areas, including liquid hydrogen fuel storage, flight and ground testing of fuel cell propulsion systems, and development of hydrogen refuelling infrastructure and operations.
ZeroAvia hydrogen-electric engines store hydrogen in fuel cells to generate electricity, which is then used to power electric motors turning the aircraft’s propellers with the only emission during flight being hydrogen and oxygen, producing water vapour.
Airbus fuel cell systems are an important part of its ZEROe aircraft concepts programme, designed to deliver low-carbon emission airframes of various sizes, having recently ground tested a 1.2 MW hydrogen engine concept.
The investment will support its first ZA600-20 seat aircraft through to certification, having recently completed the first stage of prototype flight testing and targetted a 2025 entry into service.
The funding will also enable ZeroAvia to progress its large engine program, the ZA2000 2–5.4 MW modular powertrain, designed to support larger commercial aircraft applications.
The company is working on retrofitting a Dash 8 400 76-seat testbed demonstrator provided by Alaska Airlines, with a view to first flight testing with a full size engine in 2024.
The investment will help ZeroAvia extend the leadership it has established across core in-house technologies for multi-MW class hydrogen-electric engines, including high temperature PEM (HTPEM) fuel cells, advanced electric motors and power electronics, and onboard liquid hydrogen fuel storage.
ZeroAvia founder and CEO Val Miftakhov said: “Airbus has led the way with its zero-emission vision and its commitment to extensive R&D programmes. For ZeroAvia to now have investors such as Airbus coming on board is the strongest possible validation of the prospects for hydrogen-electric propulsion technology.”
Airbus ZEROe aircraft VP Glenn Llewellyn added: “ZeroAvia has already been successful in flight testing fuel cell propulsion, and hydrogen storage and distribution systems on board its Do-228 flight test platform, which puts it in a strong position to take its technology to the next development phase. This complements our own ambition to bring a ZEROe hydrogen powered aircraft to service by 2035.”
Andy Challis, Co-Head of Principal Investments, Barclays, continued: “Our Sustainable Impact Capital portfolio is one of many ways in which Barclays is supporting green-tech companies to innovate and scale.
“ZeroAvia has shown that with ambition, technological innovation and the right support from both the public and private sector, it is possible to scale and implement such hydrogen technologies at pace.”
Majid Mufti, Managing Director of NEOM Investment Fund, concluded: “Our focus on maximising renewable energy sources and fostering innovation in alternative fuel systems aligns with ZeroAvia’s pioneering efforts in hydrogen-electric propulsion technology.”