ZeroAvia gets $21.4 million for hydrogen-powered plane development

ZeroAvia, an American hydrogen aircraft startup, secured more than $21 million worth of funding from investors. The funding will help the company to continue the development of the hydrogen-fuel-cell-powered passenger plane.

The Breakthrough Energy Ventures, investors’ organization founded by Bill Gates, which focuses on the acceleration of innovations in sustainable energy and technologies, together with  Ecosystem Integrity Fund, Horizons Ventures, Summa Equity, Amazon, and Royal Dutch Shell allocated $21.4 million to ZeroAvia to step up the innovative passenger aircraft.

The financial backing from Amazon, which aims to run a carbon-neutral business by 2040, came from its $2 billion Climate Pledge Fund. Meanwhile, Royal Dutch Shell funded the startup through Shell Ventures, its unit focusing on investments in renewable energy technologies.

“This is a capital-intensive industry, so having investors to help you through the process is very important,” said Val Miftakhov, the Chief Executive of ZeroAvia, speaking to the media on December 16, 2020.

ZeroAvia also established a partnership with British Airways and received approval for new UK government funding of an additional $16.3 million to build a larger 19-seat hydrogen-electric powered aircraft for commercial flights of up to 500 miles by 2023. The company also aims to manufacture up to 200-seat commercial planet capable of operating 3,000 miles routes by 2030. To reach the goal of building the larger passenger plane, ZeroAvia has raised a total of $37.7 million with the inclusion of the recent UK funding. The company outlined that the total funding since the inception reached  $49.7 million.

Since the first flight of the company’s  hydrogen-powered plane, which was conducted in the United Kingdom on September 24, 2020, ZeroAvia has already completed a total of 10 test flights. The CEO of the company outlined that the plane, which is currently capable to carry six people on board, was “a power-hungry machine, especially on takeoff.“ 

The California-based startup powers its plane with a hydrogen fuel cell as it is considered as a possible solution for the aircraft manufacturers to decarbonize the aviation industry in the future. According to the ZeroAvia statement, up to 20-seat hydrogen-powered aircraft could deliver zero emissions for the 500 mile long operations utilizing “existing infrastructure and simplify regulatory issues”. 

The company counted that its novel zero-emission engine consumes 75% less fuel and has lower maintenance costs, which could cut the total operational costs by up to 50%.


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