GM and Liebherr to develop HYDROTEC fuel cell-based electrical power generation system for aircraft

General Motors and Liebherr-Aerospace will join forces to develop a hydrogen fuel cell power generation demonstration system for aircraft. The two companies will explore the possibilities of developing an integrated system, adapted to the performance and economic requirements of commercial aircraft.

The construction and testing of this demonstrator, based in part on GM’s HYDROTEC fuel cell technology, will take place in a specialized multi-system integration test laboratory at Liebherr-Aerospace in Toulouse (France). The demonstrator will incorporate GM’s precision-engineered fuel cells, HYDROTEC power cube and fuel cell system, as well as GM’s controls and models.

GM, through its relationship with Honda, is one of the world’s most advanced fuel cell developers in many industrial fields, now entering aerospace. GM’s fuel cell business benefits from decades of investment in engineering and manufacturing expertise with high-volume processes that can bring economies of scale to fuel cell production.

Airplanes are an excellent litmus test for the strength and versatility of our HYDROTEC fuel cells. Our technology can meet customer needs in a wide range of uses – land, sea, air or rail, and this collaboration with Liebherr could open up new possibilities for aircraft, switching to alternative energy sources.

—GM Executive Director – Global HYDROTEC Charlie Freese

Liebherr is one of the world’s leading suppliers of integrated on-board systems for aircraft. Liebherr’s integrated aircraft system concept benefits from decades of investment in onboard thermal management and power management.

The change from a conventional electrical power generation system to an electrical power generation system based on hydrogen technology means major changes to the systems on board the aircraft that could result in better performance and more efficient aircraft. This is what we want to prove and test thoroughly. The advantage of GM’s HYDROTEC fuel cell technology is that it has shown promise in large automotive and military programs, where it has proven reliable from an engineering and manufacturing perspective. We develop low-emission aerospace solutions.

—Francis Carla, Managing Director and Chief Technology Officer, Liebherr-Aerospace & Transportation SAS

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