GM and Liebherr to develop fuel cell power source for aircraft


General Motors (GM) and Liebherr-Aerospace have agreed to collaborate on a hydrogen fuel cell electric power source for aircraft. called Hydrotec. 

GM's know-how in hydrogen fuel cells, and Liebherr's position as an aircraft system supplier, will conspire to develop a system customized to the performance and economic requirements of commercial aircraft, Liebherr said. 

The construction and testing of Hydrotec will take place in a laboratory in Liebherr-Aerospace in Toulouse, France. The prototype power supply will incorporate GM’s fuel cells, power cube and fuel cell system, along with the GM’s controls and models.

The aim of the technology is to lower an aircraft's emissions and noise. 

“Aircraft are a great litmus test for the strength and versatility of our Hydrotec fuel cells,” GM Executive Director for Global Hydrotec Charlie Freese said.

“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,” he added. 

Liebherr is a supplier of integrated on-board aircraft systems, and the company's integrated aircraft system concept benefits from decades of investment in thermal management and on-board power management.

“The change from the conventional to a hydrogen technology-based electrical power generation system means major systems modifications on board the aircraft that could result in better, more efficient performance of the plane," Liebherr-Aerospace Managing Director and Chief Technology Officer Francis Carla said. 

"The advantage of GM’s fuel cell technology is that it has shown promise in extensive automotive and military programs...reliable from the engineering and manufacturing perspectives," Carla concluded. 

Photo from Liebherr-Aerospace

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