Liebherr and GM To Collaborate on Hydrogen Fuel Cells

 - June 17, 2021, 11:11 AM
Carmaker GM is making its Hydrotec fuel cell technology available to Liebherr-Aerospace through a partnership to develop hydrogen propulsion for commercial aircraft. (Photo: GM)

General Motors (GM) and Liebherr-Aerospace have agreed to collaborate on a new hydrogen fuel cell technology for aircraft. The automotive group and the Germany-based aircraft systems supplier on Thursday announced plans for an integrated system based on GM’s Hydrotec technology that they say will meet the performance requirements of commercial airliners.

Teams from both companies will work together in a dedicated laboratory at Liebherr’s facility in Toulouse, France. They will produce a demonstrator unit that will incorporate GM’s fuel cells, a Hydrotec power cube and fuel cell system, along with controls and models developed by the U.S.-based car maker.

Liebherr has extensive experience in integrating complex systems into aircraft. The company is an established partner with Airbus, which is actively pursuing plans to bring hydrogen-powered airliners into service around 2035 through its Zero E program.

GM has invested in fuel cell technology for a couple of decades and believes it is ready for high volume production that would support new applications such as aviation. “Aircraft are a great litmus test for the strength and versatility of our Hydrotec fuel cells,” said GM’s Hydrotec global executive director Charlie Freese. “Our technology can address customer needs in a wide range of uses, on land, sea, air or rail, and this collaboration with Liebherr could open up new possibilities for aircraft, transitioning to alternative energy power sources.”

According to Francis Carla, Liebherr-Aerospace’s managing director and chief technology officer, the envisioned switch to hydrogen-based electrical power generation systems will involve major systems modifications onboard aircraft and will result in more efficient overall performance. “The advantage of GM’s Hydrotec fuel cell technology is that it has shown promise in extensive automotive and military programs, where it has shown to be reliable from the engineering and manufacturing perspectives,” he concluded.

This story is from FutureFlight.aero, a news and information resource developed by AIN to provide objective, independent coverage and analysis of cutting-edge aviation technology, including electric aircraft developments and advanced air mobility.