The University of Bath will work with hydrogen-electric aircraft powertrain manufacturer ZeroAvia to help meet its goal of developing zero-emission engines for commercial aircraft as the aviation sector strives to find greener alternatives to combusting hydrocarbon fuel.
Following the award of an Innovate UK Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) grant, University of Bath experts will work alongside ZeroAvia in a three-year collaborative programme to improve the understanding of the aerodynamic impacts of retrofitting turboprop aircraft with hydrogen fuel cells and electric motors.
The KTP will draw on Bath's extensive experience to develop state-of-the-art modelling and experimental capabilities to allow rapid and accurate prediction of aircraft performance after integration of the hydrogen-electric powertrain. This will help ZeroAvia to optimise future powertrain designs and may also offer significant energy savings over the lifetime of aircraft.
The partnership will focus on thermal management and the integration of cooling systems into aircraft while minimising impact to aircraft drag. The partnership will also consider fuel types and storage impacts on aircraft structure and fairings.
Gabriele Teofili, Head of Aircraft Integration and Testing at ZeroAvia, said, “We anticipate benefiting greatly from the broad knowledge base that the University brings to the project as well as their deep technical understanding of numerical and experimental characterisation of aircraft.”
Under the terms of the KTP, an associate from the University of Bath will work at ZeroAvia for 33 months. The associate will be supervised by a University of Bath team led by Professor Carl Sangan, Professor of Sustainable Propulsion and Power, and comprising Dr Tom Fletcher, lecturer in hydrogen fuel cells and electrified propulsion, Dr Sam Bull, an expert in unsteady aerodynamics, flow control and novel airframe testing, and Dr Mauro Carnevale, a specialist in computational fluid dynamics.
“We are delighted to be able to partner with ZeroAvia and share our expertise on what is a vital step towards the ambitions of the aviation industry in achieving the goal of zero-emission flight. The KTP affords us an excellent opportunity to deliver real world impact within a sector undergoing revolutionary change,” Professor Sangan said.
The University of Bath, under its Enterprise and Entrepreneurship programme, offers a range of development and collaboration opportunities including support for start-ups, consultancy, access to expert research networks, and Knowledge Transfer Partnerships. The ZeroAvia partnership is being supported by the University’s Business Partnership and Knowledge Exchange managers and dedicated KTP team.
The KTP programme aims to stimulate innovation, by providing industry-based training and development of talented university graduates, including postgraduates. Around 70% of associates are offered a post with the company on a permanent basis, following project completion.
Typically, the KTP associate works on a strategic project at a company, varying in length from 12 months to 3 years. An academic supervisor at the University, with relevant expertise to the programme, maintains close involvement with the associate and organisation throughout.