Hydroplane's electric propulsion system selected for CalTestBed initiative

H2 View, June 13, 2023, By Edward Laity

Sustainable aviation hydrogen powerplant developer Hydroplane has been selected for the CalTestBed programme funded by the California Energy Commission.

The voucher, managed by New Energy Nexus, will see the company manage testing and accelerate the commercialisation of its new electric propulsion system. Hydroplane is one of 18 companies selected for the latest initiative.

Hydroplane will conduct ground-based commercialisation studies at the National Fuel Cell Research Centre (NFRC) at the University of California at Irvine, with the team assessing the performance of the fuel cell powerplant in conditions that simulate the flight environment.

The company is developing a modular 200kW hydrogen fuel cell powerplant for the general aviation, regional transportation and urban air mobility markets, funded by the US Air Force Agility Prime Programme.

Hydroplane expects its electric propulsion powerplant will replace combustion-piston driven engines in currently certified, experimental and future aircraft.

It is designed for single engine aviation due to it being lightweight, has a compact form factor, is highly durable and emits only water. Hydroplane is on track to fly its demonstrator aircraft in 2023.

Dr Anita Sengupta, CEO and Founder of Hydroplane, said, "Through testing in partnership with the NFRC, we will evaluate how the flight environment affects the powerplant and define the durability and reliability needed to certify hydrogen fuel cell technology for aircraft."

Rachael Yu, Senior Programme Manager at New Energy Nexus' CalTestBed, added, "We look forward to partnering with Hydroplane to test and prove the commercial viability of their ground-breaking engine, bringing it one step closer to the commercial marketplace as a clean energy alternative."

The CalTestBed initiative assists Californian-based clean energy entrepreneurs in gaining access to more than 60 testing facilities at nine University of California campuses and the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab to accelerate the commercialisation of their operations.

The programme was created in 2020 and since then it was awarded a total value exceeding $8.3m to 39 recipients across its first and second cohorts.

Hydroplane announced last year that it received a second US Air Force (USAF) Small Business Technology Transfer contract in partnership with the University of Houston, to support its demonstrator project.