The future of hydrogen aviation powered by H3 Dynamics’ distributed hydrogen propulsion nacelles has taken flight for the very first time in France.
In November 2021, H3 Dynamics completed its first working hydrogen propulsion nacelle prototype. In July 2022, the first distributed pod system took to the skies on a scaled-down aircraft at “Hub Drones - Systematic” airfield near Paris. The hydrogen flight received clearance from the French civil air authorities (DGAC).
H3 Dynamics’ self-contained nacelle approach addresses technical, safety and cost challenges hydrogen aircraft developers could face at some point in the future. It achieves this by placing hydrogen and smaller fuel cells across a series of collaborative propulsion nacelles under the wings.
Other hydrogen aircraft proponents will fly larger size aircraft much sooner – but they will do so by converting existing aircraft using fuel cells sourced from the automotive world – and storing large amounts of gas or liquid hydrogen inside the main fuselage, the company said.
“Not only is safety our first priority, but we don’t want hydrogen competing for revenue-generating airfreight and passenger space,” said Taras Wankewycz, Founder/CEO of H3 Dynamics. Distributing small systems solves technical headaches, such as thermal management, and increases safety through multiple redundancy.
H3 Dynamics’ 25kg test aircraft has an electric flight range of up to 900km on liquid hydrogen, or 350km with pressurized hydrogen. Its externalized nacelle design also frees up 30L of fuselage volume with no hydrogen nor any powertrain elements inside. H3 Dynamics’ hydrogen propulsion nacelles could potentially become a “snap-on” retrofit for battery-powered unmanned eVTOL or fixed wing cargo drones.
The company is exploring liquid hydrogen integration as part of a joint-development with ISAE-SUPAERO in Toulouse launched in 2019. The objective is a historical and symbolic Atlantic crossing on hydrogen electric propulsion in the coming two years.
And with airfield experiments feeding its digital twin capability for hydrogen aircraft design, H3 Dynamics is now working on a next generation platform powered by 6 independent hydrogen-electric nacelle systems. The aircraft will feature fast-refueling and will be used as a test bed for H3 Dynamics hydrogen-electric propulsion technology moving forward.