Progress continues towards zero-emission passenger flights as initial concepts were revealed for the creation of a H2 production facility at Birmingham Airport (BHX). To realize this dream, early-stage concepts are being developed jointly by ZeroAvia, the H2-electric aircraft developer, and BHX for an onsite H2 production aircraft refueling facility, with the potential for multi-modal applications.
An area of land with access to the BHX airfield and the local road network has been earmarked as a suitable location for the facility. On-site solar power is being considered as a source of renewable energy to produce H2.
Subject to funding, planning and regulatory permissions being secured, the ambition would be to use the pioneering plant to support early flight demonstrations, and refuel road vehicles, potentially including local buses. In advance of this, BHX has commenced talks with a major automotive company about trialing H2 buses and cars on its airfield.
Analysis by ZeroAvia suggests a 3-MW H2 production facility could produce 365 tpy of H2 (1 tpd), potentially supporting 1,250 regional flights and 3,000 buses or trucks per annum, with the remaining 250 kg/d of H2 production capacity being used for industrial purposes.
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said, “There is the seed of an idea here—with the ambition and creativity of the ZeroAvia team working with Birmingham Airport clear to see. Our region is leading the way in tackling the climate emergency—not least with our #WM2041 net zero commitment—so it’s the right time for us to be at the forefront of this effort to decarbonize flight journeys. I look forward to this initiative bearing fruit in the months and years ahead. If this dream becomes a reality, we will all benefit.”
Arnab Chatterjee, VP Infrastructure, ZeroAvia, said, “Our ambition is bold but attainable. We have proven the concept of H2-powered flights and are on a clear pathway to commercial adoption. Technologies are advancing fast as we progress with expanding to larger aircraft over longer distances. Before the end of this decade, we believe H2 as a fuel source for vehicles and aircraft will be an accepted norm.”
Simon Richards, Chief Finance and Sustainability Officer for BHX, said, “While we are still at a very early stage, it is important to communicate this vision so people can see what is coming and the benefits to the wider community. This is a game-changing prospect underpinned by a steely determination to decarbonize and protect the future of our planet for future generations.”