Honeywell, WPI Partner On Hydrogen Fuel Cells For Aircraft


Honeywell Aerospace has partnered with Massachusetts-based Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) to research “how hydrogen fuel cells can help power the next generation of aircraft.” According to Honeywell, the collaboration will focus particularly on developing hydrogen storage and power generation technology. Around 25 Honeywell team members are expected to participate alongside experts and students from WPI.

“For the past several years we’ve ramped up our exploration of hydrogen solutions—both combustion and fuel cells—as well as other ready-now technologies that help our customers create a more sustainable future,” said Phil Robinson, Honeywell Aerospace senior director of zero emissions aviation. “The unique talent pool and opportunity for collaboration drove Honeywell’s choice to work with WPI, and we’ve been very pleased with our interactions with WPI faculty, staff and students alike.”

The partnership will look at hydrogen storage and fuel cell technologies for segments including unmanned aerial vehicles, passenger air carriers and cargo operations. Honeywell noted that the multiyear agreement is expected to fund three Ph.D. students over several years and multiple undergraduate projects each year. In addition to its team’s expertise, Honeywell says it will be supplying hydrogen equipment for the endeavor.

Kate O'Connor
Kate O’Connor works as AVweb's Editor-in-Chief. She is a private pilot, certificated aircraft dispatcher, and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

Other AVwebflash Articles


  1. Is it bad if my first thought after reading this article is that it makes me glad I have some money invested in Raytheon instead of Honeywell?

  2. Developing the fuel cells and power generation systems is the easy part. Figuring out how to produce millions of gallons of hydrogen a day without contributing to CO2 emissions, plus transporting and storing the H2 at the airports is the real challenge.

    • The hydrogen is the most abundant element they say. They say that is if there was no need to produce it stored or any of the rest of these things need to happen to make this work.

  3. H2 will be costly to produce and manage but at least it can be made from our own US based oil and natural gas.

    Still better would be to simply change the oil into Jet A and Avgas and run it in our existing engines.

    There are advantages to HFC and electric motors but not enough to counterbalance the downsides and the superiority of our proven internal combustion technology.

  4. Point is that hydrogen fuels and fuel cells have been around a long time.
    “IF” they were economically viable or “IF” they were better; then we’d already be using them.

  5. While people tout the “non carbon emissions” of hydrogen as a fuel, we have to remember that the end product, H2O, is still considered a greenhouse gas in the upper atmosphere. While not as aggressive as CO2, water molecules still interact with sunlight to trap heat. That was clearly illustrated after 911 when jet traffic over the country was severely restricted for several days. There is no free lunch. The simple problem is that the world’s current 8+ billion population (and rising) is unsustainable from an environmental standpoint. We can’t all drive cars, fly in airplanes and build structures out of steel and concrete. Greenhouse gas emissions from third-world nations (including China and India) are now responsible for about 60% of the total emissions, while those of the industrial countries has been dropping for over 20 years. Let’s focus on where the real problem is.

  6. How about keeping calm and carrying on with Avtur and thus avoid another inevitable balls up.
    The very fact that a person should want to be a politician should be enough to preclude them from ever being one. – Aristotle or someone like that.

  7. If photovoltaic power is used to hydrolyze water, and produce Green Hydrogen, no CO2 is produced.

    In my opinion, if cryocooler technology is used to increase the energy density by producing LH2, it can be passively stored in a dewer at ambient atmospheric pressure (no high-pressure vessel required).

    This LH2 production could be performed on-site, thus the transportation inefficiency of it is eliminated.

    Current fuel-cell efficiency is ~60%. That is the issue that needs to be improved, but development has been ongoing for decades …

    I believe LH2 powered fuel cells powering axial flux electric motors are the future, and so does Rolls Royce: