BASF and ZeroAvia Collaborate to Enhance Hydrogen-Powered Aviation With Advanced Fuel Cells

By September 28, 2023 4   min read  (733 words)

September 28, 2023 |

2023 09 18 11 50 50 1
  • Hydrogen fueled propulsion can enable climate neutral aviation
  • ECMS will contribute Celtec® membrane electrode assembly technology for fuel cells and its hydrogen-related portfolio including precious metal services, catalysts, components and recycling
  • ZeroAvia will develop and produce HT-PEM fuel cell systems for next generation aircraft

ISELIN, NJ, USA & KEMBLE, UK — BASF Environmental Catalyst and Metal Solutions (ECMS), a global leader in precious metal services and catalysis, and ZeroAvia, the leader in zero-emission propulsion solutions for commercial aviation, have signed an agreement for the supply of membrane electrode assemblies (MEAs) and to collaborate on research on next generation MEAs for ZeroAvia’s world-leading high temperature proton exchange membrane (HT-PEM) fuel cell stacks for aviation. The companies will work together to accelerate the commercialization of a high-powered and lightweight MEA for HT-PEM fuel cells, suitable for the aviation market. The HT-PEM fuel cell utilizes ECMS’s Celtec® technology and catalyst expertise.

BASF and ZeroAvia Collaborate to Enhance Hydrogen Powered Aviation With Advanced Fuel CellsAs part of this initial agreement, ECMS and ZeroAvia will also work to establish a long-term supply agreement for MEAs, including the supply and sourcing of the associated platinum group metals (PGMs) and PGM containing catalysts. Joint development work aims to enhance the components and materials supplied, thus increasing the performance of ZeroAvia’s overall HT-PEM fuel cell stacks.

For 20 years, ECMS has been a leader in membrane and MEA technology for HT-PEM fuel cells through its Celtec® brand. It also has a strong foundation in precious metal services and catalysis.

“We recognize the potential of our Celtec® technology to enable high-powered, lightweight, hydrogen-electric propulsion solutions and are committed to building a full loop supply chain for green hydrogen technologies including precious metal catalysts, components and recycling. We believe the close cooperation with ZeroAvia will accelerate this technology, supporting the industry’s ambition for climate neutral aviation,” said Jason Cox, Global Head of the Hydrogen Business at BASF Environmental Catalyst and Metal Solutions.

ZeroAvia’s team achieved technological breakthroughs by delivering a pressurized HT-PEM system. High temperature PEM fuel cells are a critical enabling technology for large, fixed-wing aircraft, rotorcraft and eVTOL applications. Increased temperature and pressure allow for air cooling, reduce cooling drag, simplify the system, and ultimately enable much more demanding applications.

ZeroAvia’s testing of its pressurized 20kW HT-PEM stack power module has already demonstrated an industry leading 2.5 kW/kg power at the cell level. The company is targeting a 3+ kW/kg system level power density over the next two to three years, which requires advances in various components within the stacks. This will help extend the technology from supporting regional turboprop aircraft, to potentially enabling hydrogen-electric propulsion systems for 100 plus seat narrowbody turbofan aircraft such as the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320.

“Partnering with ECMS enables us to accelerate our HT-PEM development, facilitating rapid development of our powertrains for large regional turboprop, regional jet and ultimately, even narrowbody aircraft,” said Rudolf Coertze, Head of R&D, ZeroAvia. “This agreement is an important step towards securing the components that will enable manufacture of the ZA2000 engines for 40-80 seat aircraft once certified in 2027.”

About BASF Environmental Catalyst and Metal Solutions

Leveraging its deep expertise as a global leader in catalysis and precious metals, BASF Environmental Catalyst and Metal Solutions (ECMS) serves customers in many industries including automotive, aerospace, indoor air quality, semiconductors and hydrogen economy, and provides full loop services with its precious metals trading and recycling offering. With a focus on circular solutions and sustainability, ECMS is committed to helping our customers create a cleaner, more sustainable world. Protecting the elements of life is our purpose and this inspires us to ever-new solutions. ECMS operates globally in 15 countries with over 4,500 employees and 20 production sites.

About ZeroAvia  

ZeroAvia is a leader in zero-emission aviation, focused on hydrogen-electric aviation as the initially targeting a 300-mile range in 9–19 seat aircraft by 2025, and up to 700-mile range in 40–80 seat aircraft by 2027. Based in the US and the UK, ZeroAvia has already secured experimental certificates for its three prototype aircraft from the CAA and FAA, passed significant flight test milestones, secured a number of key partnerships with major aircraft OEMs, secured pre-orders for nearly 2,000 engines from a number of the major global airlines, with future revenue potential over $10bn. ZeroAvia is part of the UK Government’s Jet Zero Council. For more, please visit, follow @ZeroAvia on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.



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