GKN Aerospace and IAAPS to partner on development of hydrogen propulsion systems for aviation

05 December 2022

Leading global multi-technology tier 1 supplier GKN Aerospace and advanced propulsion R&I centre IAAPS have announced a strategic partnership to develop and validate novel hydrogen technology solutions for the decarbonisation of the aviation industry.

IAAPS will support GKN Aerospace’s ground-breaking H2GEAR Programme to develop a megawatt scale cryogenic electric drive system using PEM fuel cells. IAAPS will deliver key aspects of the comprehensive testing and validation programme at its new R&I centre with both green H2 production and liquid H2 storage facility. The multi-year, multi-million-pound project will encompass both component and system level testing of hybrid hydrogen and electric architecture and drive forward investment in infrastructure for the delivery of gaseous and liquid hydrogen and development of cryogenic cooling systems.

H2GEAR is a GKN Aerospace led, pioneering UK collaboration initiative with the aim to develop a liquid hydrogen propulsion system for sub-regional aircraft that could be scaled up to larger aircraft. Liquid hydrogen is being converted to electricity within a fuel cell system. A cryogenic cooling network will be used to maximise the performance of the power distribution network and electrical machine. This electricity efficiently powers the aircraft, eliminating carbon emissions and creating a new generation of clean air travel. The H2GEAR programme is supported by £27m of ATI funding, matched by GKN Aerospace and its industrial partners.

The collaboration is not only a key step in the development of commercially viable hydrogen technologies for aviation, but also makes a significant contribution towards the ‘UK Government’s Hydrogen Strategy’ which aims to establish a thriving low carbon hydrogen sector by 2030, driving the transition to net zero.

IAAPS recently announced it is to establish a green hydrogen (H2) manufacturing capability at its state-of-the-art, £70m propulsion R&I facility at the Bristol & Bath Science Park, set to become operational in spring 2023. It will be the first of its kind in the Southwest of England and is a key strategic step for IAAPS, supporting vital research into sustainable propulsion technologies and the use of hydrogen as an alternative green fuel source, in particular in the hard to electrify sectors such as aviation, marine, off-highway and heavy-duty vehicles.

Tony Reid, IAAPS Commercial Director, says: “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to support GKN Aerospace’s first hydrogen propulsion system for sub-regional aircraft and to play a key part in the delivery of the next generation of innovative, sustainable powertrain technologies. These technologies will have far reaching impact in achieving net zero targets and reducing the global reliance on carbon, not just in aviation, but also across the wider transport industry. IAAPS has extensive experience in the research and development of clean propulsion systems, and with the addition of our new green H2 manufacturing and test facility we are ideally placed to carry out a vast array of exciting R&I projects within the aerospace sector.”

This is mirrored by Max Brown, VP Technology, GKN Aerospace: “Hydrogen technology is an essential component in the successful and rapid decarbonisation of the aviation industry and we are delighted to establish this strategic partnership with IAAPS. The collaboration will allow GKN to further develop our expertise in zero carbon propulsion technologies, using IAAPS’ state-of-the-art hydrogen and propulsion research capabilities, therefore fast-tracking the validation and delivery of clean, hydrogen-powered aircraft.”

GKN Aerospace is the world’s leading multi-technology tier 1 aerospace supplier. As a global company serving the world’s leading aircraft manufacturers, GKN Aerospace develops, builds and supplies an extensive range of advanced aerospace systems, components and technologies– for use in Defence and Commercial aircraft ranging from helicopters, business jets, passenger planes to the most advanced fighter aircraft.

Lightweight composites, additive manufacturing, innovative engine systems and smart transparencies help to reduce emissions and weight on the aircraft and enhance passenger comfort. GKN Aerospace is market leading in aerostructures, engine systems and operates in 12 countries at 38 manufacturing locations employing approximately 15,000 people.

05 December 2022