Process and control today | Filton Systems Engineering and Fabrum support GKN Aerospace on liquid hydrogen fuel systems
08/30/2022 Filton Process Control Engineering
The UK-New Zealand engineering partnership provides end-to-end liquid hydrogen fuel system infrastructure on the ground, with on-site liquid hydrogen production, supporting aviation’s transition to a sustainable future
Based in New Zealand a global leader in zero-emissions transition and UK engineering consultancy (FSE) have joined forces with GKN Aerospace to help move aviation towards hydrogen flight with end-to-end hydrogen fuel system technology.
GKN Aerospace is the world’s leading Tier 1 multi-technology aerospace supplier; with 38 manufacturing sites in 12 countries, they serve more than 90% of the world’s aircraft and engine manufacturers. This collaboration leverages FSE’s aerospace capability in fuel systems and fuel, air, hydraulic, inerting and engine systems design, as well as cryogenic storage and fuel tank technology. of Fabrum and its expertise in hydrogen fuel systems.
The announcement coincides with FSE’s upgrade of its existing hot and cold fuel testing facility to now offer gaseous and liquid hydrogen in a world’s first commercial test environment in Bristol, which has become a global focal point for hydrogen flight activity. AllThese facilities allow aerospace companies to produce and test liquid hydrogen as a fuel for hydrogen test flights, with the FSE providing additional support for certification of flight status.
Fabrum developed the ground-based end-to-end liquid hydrogen production solution for the test facility, including hydrogen conditioning, liquefaction and liquid hydrogen storage. Further upgrades are planned, including the combination of Fabrum’s cryogenic technologies with a membraneless electrolyser to eliminate dependence on hydrogen gas supply.
At the FSE test facility, a ground-based demonstrator of a 2.4 kW liquid hydrogen system was jointly designed with GKN Aerospace and built by FSE, as part of the Innovate UK-funded Safe Flight project. This end-to-end system demonstrates the feasibility of liquid hydrogen as a fuel source for aircraft and addresses many of the safety issues raised by the introduction of such a new fuel. The project developed storage and distribution technologies, optimized purging systems and an integrated fuel tank design with on-aircraft distribution (including vaporization and conditioning) up to supplying a fuel cell with hydrogen gas at the temperature and pressure required over a range of electrical loads representative of typical flight.
Fabrum CEO Dr. Ojas Mahapatra says Fabrum is excited to change the future of aviation with FSE.
“The successful adoption of zero-emission fuels requires both the development of ground infrastructure for the supply of liquid hydrogen to airports and the aircraft that will use it. The production of liquid hydrogen at the point of use is the most economical solution in the short and medium term to enable emission-free flight. We have already proven our hydrogen fuel solutions on the ground for small and medium scale hydrogen production. Now, together with FSE, we are bringing these refueling solutions to the aerospace industry – right down to the on-board fuel cell.
Ben Richardson, Commercial Director of Filton Systems Engineering, says the company is ready to support the aerospace industry as it innovates towards a hydrogen-powered future, as its world-first solutions are a reality.
“We have combined our industry-leading aerospace expertise in the design and certification of fuel systems and equipment with Fabrum’s unique and complementary expertise to achieve significant milestones in liquid hydrogen. We have searched globally for the best people to help us move aviation towards a hydrogen future, and Fabrum is an ideal partner because they are the best at what they do in the world. Together, we have already provided groundbreaking test facilities with immediate access to on-site and on-demand hydrogen. We see this as a vital asset for aerospace and other industrial sectors, if hydrogen is to be developed as an alternative fuel source. There is now a facility in the UK where product development can be carried out safely with a continuous supply of liquid hydrogen.
“In addition, the American company NI (formerly National Instruments) with expertise acquired in recent space programs, provides measurement and control equipment and methodologies to solve the challenges associated with the control and instrumentation of such a difficult and relatively unknown fuel.”
Fabrum CEO and co-founder Christopher Boyle says the company’s partnership with FSE is powerful as it leverages Fabrum’s years of experience supplying aviation components for future flights, including superconducting motors and battery technology for electric aircraft.
“We are excited to now link our aerospace and hydrogen systems for real flight and full certification with FSE. We have always believed that hydrogen was the ideal alternative fuel for aviation, and in 17 years we have developed enormous capabilities and understand the engines of aeronautical systems. Liquid hydrogen offers a new future for sustainable long-distance travel and energy autonomy.”
Boyle compares the challenges of hydrogen aviation to Formula 1: “It requires the best technology to achieve the results sought by the industry and requires high performance, high reliability and weight awareness. We are the only company in the world with the ability to electrolyze, liquefy, distribute and ground fuel storage to aircraft refueling in onboard fuel tanks – with the ability to vaporize the liquid into gas at the right pressure and temperature for the fuel cell.
“Our technologies are a game-changer for aviation innovators and researchers because we enable on-demand liquid hydrogen production as close to the point of use, storage and containment as possible. This is a paradigm shift from liquid hydrogen produced in large-scale plants and transported to the site of use.
Fabrum is the global leader in end-to-end zero-emissions transition technologies to enable a low-carbon economy. Formerly known as Fabrum Solutions, the company recently merged with AFCryo, a world leader in cryocoolers and liquefiers, to provide critical end-to-end solutions, including hydrogen fuel solutions for transportation heavy, marine and aviation.
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