CORDIS - EU research results

High powEr density FC System for Aerial Passenger VEhicle fueled by liquid HydrogeN

Project description

On the way to a zero-emission hydrogen electric powertrain for small aircraft

Aircraft powered by hydrogen fuel cells hold great promise for decarbonising the aviation industry. The EU-funded HEAVEN project aims to build the powertrain – the mechanism that drives the aircraft – for an existing small aircraft (accommodating up to four passengers). In particular, the project will adapt two 45-kW polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell systems to aircraft applications and integrate them with optimised balance-of-plant components. The enhanced 90-kW fuel cell system should propel the aircraft without a battery. The storage of liquid hydrogen will require cryogenic temperatures. Cryogenic technology will be applied to aeronautical applications for the first time, aiming to improve the energy densities of pressurised hydrogen tanks. The fuel cell and cryogenic systems will be coupled with an existing aircraft drivetrain.


The main goal of HEAVEN project is to design, develop and integrate a powertrain based on high power fuel cell and cryogenic technology into an existing 2-4 seats aircraft for testing in flight operation. Specifically, the project proposes to design a modular architecture with modular systems that can be scale-up to other sizes of aircrafts and UAV applications. The design methodology is complemented with safety and regulation analysis. Regarding the fuel cell technology, two high power PEM fuel cell systems of 45 kW based on metallic bipolar plates will be adapted for aircraft applications and integrated with optimized balance of plant components to obtain an enhanced 90kW fuel cell system able to propel without support of a battery the aircraft operating modes. The hydrogen storage will be based on cryogenic technology successfully applied in previous space applications in order to achieve a gravimetric index of about 15% for a hydrogen payload between 10 and 25 kg that provides an autonomy range to the demonstrator of 5-8 hours. Moreover, HEAVEN project will leverage existing drivetrain components and an aircraft demonstrator in order to achieve an overall and successful TRL6 at the end of the project. The technology developments will be enriched with economic and business assessments during the execution of the project. Thus, HEAVEN will produce estimations of a total cost of ownership for the entire life cycle of the technology and business plan for the deployment of the technology in different aeronautics applications.
Finally, HEAVEN consortium comprises large companies, SMEs and well-known research center with a strong experience and knowledge in fuel cell technology development for aeronautic applications that is supported with the participation in previous relevant H2020 projects and national projects.


Net EU contribution
€ 269 705,00
70327 Stuttgart

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Baden-Württemberg Stuttgart Stuttgart, Stadtkreis
Activity type
Private for-profit entities (excluding Higher or Secondary Education Establishments)
Total cost
€ 1 720 466,43

Participants (7)