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Cranfield University wins research funding

Published by , Editorial Assistant
Global Hydrogen Review,

Cranfield University will spearhead the research and development of the first major hydrogen technology hub to demonstrate the potential of hydrogen as a net zero aviation fuel.

The £69 million investment creating the Cranfield Hydrogen Integration Incubator (CH2i) is the largest financial injection for research that Cranfield University has ever secured. £23 million comes from Research England’s Research Partnership Investment Fund (UKRPIF), with a further £46 million committed from industry partners and academic institutions.

The demand for air travel is rising, with estimates that UK passenger traffic could increase from 284 million in 2016 to 435 million by 2050. Unless action is taken, aviation will be the largest source of carbon greenhouse gas emissions by the middle of the century. In this context, the rapid development and scale up of hydrogen-enabled aviation is a critical part of addressing growing demands whist transitioning to cleaner air transport. With domestic aviation set a target of achieving net zero emissions by 2040 in the UK government’s Jet Zero strategy, CH2i will support the aviation industry to explore how to move towards the use of hydrogen at scale.

“This gamechanging investment builds on Cranfield’s expertise in hydrogen research and will help the aviation industry to make the leap to using hydrogen,” said Professor Karen Holford CBE FREng, Chief Executive and Vice-Chancellor of Cranfield University.

“CH2i will integrate with other large industry research areas at Cranfield including our novel hydrogen production programmes and our Aerospace Integration Research Centre and the Digital Aviation Research and Technology Centre. Working with research and industry partners nationally and internationally, we will unlock some of the most significant technical challenges around the future development and deployment of hydrogen in aviation. It’s a very exciting prospect for our researchers, partners and for the aviation industry. It will help to build the pathway to net zero emissions aviation.”

CH2i will create a unique ecosystem at Cranfield, connecting the production, integration and use of hydrogen for net zero aviation, proving how the industry can decarbonise rapidly.

The research collaboration, linking into a new Centre for Doctoral Training in Net Zero Aviation at Cranfield, will provide an environment to develop the production technologies, catalysts, materials, structures, storage tanks, aircraft designs and engines that are urgently required to accelerate the adoption of hydrogen in a net zero world. By developing new laboratories, at scale test facilities and airport infrastructure this project will deliver a transformation in hydrogen technologies.

Bringing together academia, industry, government and regulatory authorities, CH2i’s work will inform policies, services and regulatory practices that are needed to realise regional, national and international economic growth and skills development opportunities.

Co-Principal Investigator of CH2i, Professor Dame Helen Atkinson DBE FREng, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Head of the School for Aerospace, Transport and Manufacturing and Materials: “The consortium will bring a ‘systems engineering’ approach, accelerating the integration of hydrogen into airports and aerospace propulsion and delivering next generation technologies. Together we are committed to unlocking hydrogen’s potential for airports and aviation globally, realising our collective ambitions for a more sustainable future.”

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