Hydrogen-electric propulsion technology can produce 90% less lifecycle emissions than jet fuel-powered turbines, and ZeroAvia predicts its powertrain will result in substantially lower operating costs.

ZeroAvia demonstrated the potential for zero-emission flight through flying the world’s largest hydrogen-electric powered aircraft, a Piper Malibu.

Engineers leveraged Ansys multiphysics simulations — including structural analysis, fluid dynamics, FSI, electromagnetic, and electromechanical analysis — to help make the electric-powered plane a reality.

The ZeroAvia system uses electricity generated by a solar panel to run an air compression pump. When combined with hydrogen stored in an on-board tank, oxygen from the compressed air reacts with hydrogen in the fuel cell to produce electricity to power an electric airplane motor. Water is the only emission from this process — no carbon-based greenhouse gases.

The ZeroAvia team used Ansys® SCADE® to automatically generate the code controlling the motor, which helps reduce human error and costly coding mistakes. ZeroAvia also leveraged Ansys® medini analyse software to validate the safety of the aircraft’s hydro-electric systems – supporting and accelerating the stringent certification process.

Youcef Abdelli, Chief Technology Officer and Chief Engineer of electric propulsion systems at ZeroAvia, said without Ansys, it would still be writing code for high-level application, which would have increased the development and verification.

“For system certification, we use Ansys simulation to support the critical aspects of hydrogen-electric engine design – including thermal, safety, certification, stress, fatigue, and lifting,” he said.

ZeroAvia will soon fly a retrofitted Dornier 228 aircraft to flight test its market-entry product – a 600kW hydrogen-electric powertrain designed for 9-19 seat aircraft to be commercialized by 2024.

It is also already working on developing a 2-5MW powertrain capable of flying 40-80 seat aircraft by 2026. For these two certified-intent systems, ZeroAvia is working with Ansys software.