ZeroAvia has been granted a patent for an integrated hydrogen-electric engine for a fuel cell powered airplane. The system includes a hydrogen fuel cell, air compressor, and cooling system with a unique design to optimize efficiency. GlobalData’s report on ZeroAvia gives a 360-degree view of the company including its patenting strategy. Buy the report here.

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According to GlobalData’s company profile on ZeroAvia, Fuel cell powered drones was a key innovation area identified from patents. ZeroAvia's grant share as of January 2024 was 19%. Grant share is based on the ratio of number of grants to total number of patents.

Fuel cell powered airplane with integrated hydrogen-electric engine

Source: United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Credit: ZeroAvia Inc

A recently granted patent (Publication Number: US11876263B1) discloses a fuel cell powered airplane with an integrated hydrogen-electric engine. The aircraft includes a hydrogen fuel cell, an air inlet coupled to a cooling duct integrated into the aircraft, and a cooling system with a heat exchanger radiator in the cooling duct. The unique feature of this invention is the method of directing an air stream from the air inlet through the radiator and feeding an exhaust stream from the cathode side of the fuel cell into the cooling duct. The cathode exhaust stream is fed into the air stream in the cooling duct both upstream and downstream of the heat exchanger radiator, with the downstream feed introduced through a porous wall of the cooling duct. Additionally, the duct includes a constricted section downstream of the flow control nozzle to optimize airflow.

Furthermore, the patent also details a method for cooling a fuel cell aboard a fuel cell powered airplane, following the same principles as the integrated hydrogen-electric engine. The method involves directing an air stream from the air inlet through the radiator and feeding the cathode exhaust stream into the cooling duct via a flow control nozzle. The method includes specific steps to regulate mass flow or pressure of the cathode exhaust stream and maintain back pressure on the fuel cell. The cooling duct, as described in the method, can be integrated into the wings and/or fuselage of the aircraft, showcasing a comprehensive approach to cooling the fuel cell efficiently while in flight. Overall, the patent highlights a novel and innovative design for a fuel cell powered aircraft, emphasizing the importance of effective cooling systems for optimal performance.

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData Patent Analytics tracks bibliographic data, legal events data, point in time patent ownerships, and backward and forward citations from global patenting offices. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.