Protium Secures Funding Through the Future Flight Challenge, to Develop a Pathway for Green Hydrogen Infrastructure for the Worlds First Hydrogen Flights

By January 25, 2021 5   min read  (876 words)

January 25, 2021 |

fuel cells works, protium, aviation, hydrogen
  • Protium has partnered with Blue Bear Systems and ZeroAvia to deliver a major new project.
  •  Grant will enable the consortium to complete the feasibility and design works for future deployment of passenger planes powered entirely from green hydrogen.
  •  The hydrogen will be produced entirely from renewable resources and will provide a pathway to zero emission airport operations.

Protium Green Solutions, the UK‐based green hydrogen energy services company, has secured a significant grant for Project HEART from the UK Government as part of the latest Future Flight Challenge in partnership with Blue Bear Systems and ZeroAvia.

Blue Bear Systems is the leading supplier of innovation and products in unmanned systems, and ZeroAvia is a US-based innovator and leader of decarbonising commercial aviation. Other consortium members include Britten-Norman, LoganAir, Inmarsat, Highlands & Islands Airport, Weston Williams & Partners, Fleetondemand and Edinburgh Napier University.

The grant has been awarded as part of the UK Government’s Future Flight programme, funded by UK Research and Innovation as part of the Government’s modern industrial strategy, which invites businesses and innovators to take part in or source partners for revolutionising aviation as part of a £125 million challenge. The project commenced in December 2020 and will take 12-14 months to be completed.

Protium will use the funds to determine the optimal methods for safely and commercially producing, storing, and distributing green hydrogen for aviation activities, with support from its consortium partners.

The consortium will examine the potential of a hydrogen powered 19-seater, 500-mile range aircraft. Blue Bear will also work with Britten-Norman and Loganair to develop automated flight solutions with the use of ‘digital co-pilots’ and to consider the potential to increase the automation of ground vehicles in the chosen airports.

The project will finish in Q1 2022, with the consortium partners looking to a potential follow-on bid for the Phase III of Future Flight, which would result in the construction and operation of the world’s first operating zero emission 19-seater commercial aircraft, with dedicated green hydrogen infrastructure.

ZeroAvia, the leading innovator in decarbonising commercial aviation, has previously been involved with similar projects, having received a £2.7 million grant last year to support in the project’s development and principal technology to enable practical, zero emission aviation in commercial aircraft.

The grant represents another landmark milestone for Protium and follows shortly after receiving a £70,000 grant from the Department of Business, Energy, Industrial Strategy this month. The grant was provided for the HyLaddie project, which will determine how to incorporate innovative hydrogen combustion technology for Islay-based Bruichladdich Distillery. In Q4 last year, Protium also signed a green hydrogen fuel switching feasibility assessment with a renowned UK manufacturer, as well as a Heads of Terms agreement with horticultural engineering firm, CambridgeHOK. Furthermore, in Q3 last year Protium and ZeroAvia signed a Heads of Terms agreement, allowing the companies to join forces to work closely with aviation organisation to develop and expand green hydrogen infrastructure across the UK.

Commenting on the announcement, Chris Jackson, CEO of Protium, said: “This could lead to a significant breakthrough for not only the aviation sector but also the fuel cell and renewable energy industry. This is a brilliant example of industries working collaboratively to achieve net zero targets and together, with the consortium, we have a real opportunity to pave the way for sustainable, emission-free air travel. We’re delighted to be working on this ground-breaking project.”

Andy Smith, Head of Sustainability Strategy at Loganair, said: “Hydrogen based propulsion systems for aircraft are an exciting emerging technology with the potential to eliminate emissions for sub-regional air transportation. We are very pleased to be working alongside so many innovative and ambitious partners with the common goal of finding sustainable and cost-effective transport solutions for the Highland and Island communities we serve.”

About Protium

Protium is a UK‐based green hydrogen energy services company (HESCO). Founded in 2019, the company supports the transition to net zero by working alongside clients in manufacturing and transport infrastructure to deploy green hydrogen and renewable energy infrastructure assets.

About Loganair

Loganair is the UK’s largest regional airline, based in Scotland and operating a fleet of over 40 aircraft. Operating continuously since 1962, Loganair serves a range of domestic and European destinations from over 30 UK airports, more than any other airline.

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About UKRI

We work with the government to invest over £7 billion a year in research and innovation by partnering with academia and industry to make the impossible, possible. Through the UK’s nine leading academic and industrial funding councils, we create knowledge with impact.

For more information visit

About Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund:

Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund: The Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund aims to bring together the UK’s world leading research with business to meet the major industrial and societal challenges of our time. The fund was created to provide funding and support to UK businesses and researchers, part of the government’s £4.7 billion increase in research and development over the next 4 years. It was designed to ensure that research and innovation takes centre stage in the Government’s modern Industrial Strategy. It is run by UK Research and Innovation.


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