Two U.S. companies have formed an alliance to revolutionize the aviation industry by launching an ambitious project to build the first hydrogen-powered helicopter.
U.S.-based HyPoint signed an agreement with Piasecki Aircraft Corporation to develop a hydrogen fuel cell system for vertical take-off and landing aircraft. The helicopter, named the Piasecki PA-890, on which the system will be used, is expected to be the first hydrogen-powered helicopter in the world.
Through a press release, the organization estimates that the innovation would have a power output of 650 kW and be four times more efficient than existing lithium-ion batteries. It would also reduce by 50% the direct operating costs in comparison with turbine-powered aircraft.
The relationship between the two technologies is focused on a $6.5 million multiphase development investment pact for hydrogen fuel cell system design and certification. Through the partnership, HyPoint intends to deliver five full-scale hydrogen fuel cell systems for ground testing, demonstration flights and the certification process.
The Piasecki PA-890’s designers envision it to be used by emergency medical services for transporting high-value goods, as well as enabling human travel in approximately three years when it complies with all legal requirements.
According to HyPoint, its hydrogen fuel cell system is capable of delivering a specific power up to 2000 W/kg, and offers an energy density of 1500 Wh/kg or more. These figures on paper fit with the requirements imposed by air transport vehicles.
According to Piasecki, they have tested successfully the cell at the laboratory and will start construction soon. If everything goes as they imagine, it will take off by 2024, and building the 325 units already ordered by several customers, will begin in 2025.
Written by I Jhonattan González