Innovation for airport handling of hydrogen aircraft gets funding boost

Expanded innovation programme will help airports prepare for zero emission aircraft landing this decade.

Connected Places Catapult, the UK’s innovation accelerator for cities, transport, and place leadership, is pleased to confirm that The Department for Transport (DfT) has invested a further £1.2m of funding for the second phase of the Zero Emission Flight Infrastructure (ZEFI) programme. The programme focusses on helping to grow the market for hydrogen infrastructure to enable hydrogen aircraft operation at UK airports. 

The ZEFI programme is aiming to provide key information to decision makers and investors about current market and technology maturity. This will enable them to make informed investment decisions for their specific airport operation requirements. The programme is also working with the British Standards Institution to convene the industry – from SMEs to large corporates – to co-develop standards around hydrogen operation infrastructure at airports. 

Alongside this, the ZEFI programme will facilitate technology demonstrations to showcase emerging technologies supporting the use of hydrogen in aviation. Three demonstrations have been funded by the programme in 2022, each with specific objectives: 

  • To demonstrate that hydrogen safety is manageable  
  • To inform the design of future systems such that the most cost-effective design can be manufactured  
  • To share learnings of actual implementation of system architecture illustrated in ZEFI Blueprint document. 

The programme is led by Connected Places Catapult and is partnering with a range of industry and academic organisations including: the British Standards Institution, Costain, Cranfield University, DNV, Filton Systems Engineering, Jacobs, KPMG, and Strathclyde University.  Findings will be published in March 2023. 

“Industry and governments alike have committed that the global aviation sector should reach net zero by 2050 and the UK is at the forefront.   

“The ZEFI programme is conducting targeted activities to break down barriers that currently exist and scale the market for hydrogen infrastructure at airports.” 
Prof Henry Tse, Director – New Mobility Technologies at Connected Places Catapult
“Consensus-based industry standards are a crucial tool to support innovation, accelerating progress towards net zero. We are delighted to be partnering with DfT and Connected Places Catapult to convene the ZEFI Standards Advisory group and deliver on its important role in agreeing the standards needed to enable Zero Emission Flight Infrastructure for the benefit of all.” 
Nick Fleming, Associate Director, Transport and Mobility, British Standards Institution

Find out more about the Zero Emission Flight Infrastructure (ZEFI) programme.