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Singapore’s HES unveils hydrogen-electric aircraft concept
Element One. © HES Energy Sytems

Singapore’s HES unveils hydrogen-electric aircraft concept

HES Energy Systems has unveiled plans to develop the world’s first hydrogen-electric regional passenger aircraft.

HES Energy Systems (HES) — a Singapore-based specialist in ultra-light fuel cells and hydrogen energy storage systems for UAVs — recently unveiled its plans for Element One, which aims to be the world’s first hydrogen-electric regional passenger aircraft.

Designed as a zero-emissions aircraft, Element One merges HES’ ultra-light hydrogen fuel cell technologies with a distributed electric aircraft propulsion design. With virtually no change to its current drone-scale systems, HES’ distributed system is claimed to allow for modularity and increased safety through multiple system redundancies.

Element One is designed to carry four passengers and has a range of 500-5,000km, depending on whether hydrogen is stored in gaseous or liquid form. This performance is several orders of magnitude better than any battery-electric aircraft attempt so far, opening new aerial routes between smaller towns and rural areas using an existing and dense network of small-scale airports and aerodromes.

The company says it is targeting a first flying prototype before 2025. The project is one of a number of aviation-related fuel cell initiatives currently under way (see here and here).

HES has been working with a number of start-ups and SMEs in France over the past year, while exploring various locations to execute its Element One vision, including Aerospace Valley, the aviation R&D hub located in Toulouse.

HES has announced its plans to begin associating on-site hydrogen generation with fuel cell-powered unmanned aircraft across a network of hydrogen-ready airports, in preparation for larger-scale electric aircraft such as Element One. HES is now in discussion with industrial-scale hydrogen producers to explore energy-efficient refueling systems using renewable solar or wind energy produced locally.

In an effort to explore new business models that help position Element One into new travel segments, HES has aligned its zero-carbon aviation roadmap with Wingly, a French startup that offers flight-sharing services for decentralised and regional air travel.

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