Honeywell Aerospace and Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts have established a partnership to study hydrogen storage and power generation for all forms of air travel, including unmanned aerial vehicles, passenger airliners, and cargo aircraft. Honeywell already has what it calls a significant presence on WPI’s campus, where it supplies hydrogen equipment and technology expertise.
A group of roughly 25 Honeywell team members now work with WPI experts and students under a multiyear contract to develop hydrogen storage and fuel cell technologies. Honeywell uses such technologies for unmanned aerial vehicles, and the Honeywell-WPI team has begun investigating hydrogen solutions for UAVs, cargo drones, air taxis, and larger aircraft that could one day power commuter and regional flights without petroleum fuels.
“The aviation industry has recognized an imperative to de-carbonize, which is extremely challenging in the weight and volume-constrained environment of an aircraft,” said Andrew Teixeira, assistant professor of chemical engineering and project lead on the WPI team. “Hydrogen, along with sustainable aviation fuels and aircraft electrification, represents a huge opportunity for the aerospace industry to meet the UN’s 2050 climate targets. The collaboration with Honeywell will accelerate the process because the partnership permits WPI researchers to focus on the scientific bottlenecks, while Honeywell provides leading expertise on aerospace productization and certification.”
The collaboration allows WPI students to work alongside the Honeywell team in the same lab space. The agreement funds three Ph.D. students over several years and multiple undergraduate major-qualifying projects each year. Principal investigators include Teixeira and Anthony Dixon in chemical engineering and Ronald Grimm and Shawn Burdette in chemistry.