Cranfield Hydrogen Integration Incubator (CH2i)

  • Heralding a step change in hydrogen research
  • The first large-scale hydrogen research hub at any UK airport
  • CH2i will unlock technical challenges and scale-up hydrogen-enabled aviation to help meet net zero targets
“This game-changing investment builds on Cranfield’s expertise in hydrogen research and will help the aviation industry to make the leap to using hydrogen. It’s a very exciting prospect for our researchers, partners and for industry and helps build the pathway to net zero emissions aviation.

Working with research and industry partners nationally and internationally, we will unlock some of the most significant technical challenges around the future development and deployment of hydrogen in aviation.”
Professor Karen Holford, Vice-Chancellor at Cranfield University

Hydrogen-enabled aviation is seen as a critical component of addressing growing demand for air travel whilst transitioning to cleaner air transport.

With a target of net zero emissions aviation in domestic aviation by 2040, set out in the UK government’s Jet Zero strategy, CH2i will support the aviation industry to move towards the use of hydrogen at scale.

With £69 million investment, CH2i will connect and grow hydrogen facilities at Cranfield, supporting research and development across the whole supply chain from production, storage, transport and usage to assessing environmental impacts. For aviation, CH2i will be demonstrating where hydrogen can be integrated into both ground operations and as a fuel for aircraft propulsion.

Alongside this, CH2i’s work will inform policies, services and regulatory practices that are needed to realise regional, national and international economic growth and skills development opportunities.

CH2i will include three large infrastructure elements:

  1. Hydrogen Integration Research Centre – extending an existing facility, this will include new labs for advanced materials synthesis and testing for hydrogen-based technologies, analytical laboratories and a dedicated innovation area to develop next generation hydrogen pilot plant demonstration, electrolysis, catalyst development and green hydrogen.
  2. Enabling Hydrogen Innovation (Test Area) - investment into two separate test bed facilities, able to support hydrogen and liquid hydrogen activity, fuel systems, storage and propulsion system integration at mid- and high-technology readiness levels.
  3. Developing Cranfield Airport’s runway, increasing its size and capacity to allow for safe operation and testing of larger demonstrator hydrogen-enabled aircraft.
“We’re creating the blueprint for sustainable zero emissions flight and infrastructure, by building world-class laboratory and test facilities that integrate the production, storage and utilisation of hydrogen at scale across the campus and airport.”
Professor Chris Fogwill, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Head of School for Water, Energy and Environment at Cranfield University

Our partners

Academic partners

  • Midlands Innovation Energy Research Accelerator (ERA)
  • UKRI NERC National Centre for Atmospheric Science
  • UK Aerospace Research Consortium
  • UK Collaboration for Research on Infrastructure and Cities (UKCRIC)
  • National Physical Laboratory (NPL)

Research and industry partners who are co-investors for the project

  • Marshall
  • Cranfield Aerospace Solutions
  • GKN Aerospace
  • Element 2
  • Hywaves
  • Toyota
  • GTI Energy
  • Siemens Energy
  • Heathrow Airport
  • Modular Clinton Global
  • Equilibrion

Supporting industry and regulatory partners

  • Rolls-Royce
  • Bristol Airport
  • Luton Airport
  • Regional and City Airports
  • easyJet
  • High Value Manufacturing Catapult
  • National Gas
  • ICF
  • Parker GSFE
  • ITM
  • BP
“The consortium will bring a ‘systems engineering’ approach, accelerating the integration of hydrogen into airports and aerospace propulsion and delivering next generation technologies. Together we are committed to unlocking hydrogen’s potential for airports and aviation globally, realising our collective ambitions for a more sustainable future.”
Professor Dame Helen Atkinson DBE FREng, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Head of the School for Aerospace, Transport and Manufacturing and Materials

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