World's Biggest Hydrogen Fuel Cell Airship Is In The Works

Google co-founder Sergey Brin's airship company is working towards a major disaster relief goal.
Fabienne Lang

A job listing on LTA Research and Exploration's site (LTA) explains how the company is looking for a Hydrogen Power Manager to engineer a "hydrogen fuel cell propulsion system through the configuration of 1.5MW airship propulsion system." 

It looks like Sergey Brin's airship company is planning to break hydrogen full cell records, as well as provide huge disaster relief airships. Brin, co-creator of Google, is looking to revolutionize transportation through airships capable of crossing oceans in an eco-friendly way, to deliver passengers and disaster relief when required. 

So far, as TechCrunch reports, the largest hydrogen fuel cell able to fly is a 0.25-megawatt system, which comes in the form of ZeroAvia's passenger aircraft

LTA's hydrogen fuel cell airships

So LTA has a few hurdles to jump over before creating a flying 1.5-megawatt system. However, it's on the correct path. The company's first prototype, Pathfinder 1, is set to potentially liftoff later this year thanks to batteries. Thanks to its 12 electric motors, the airship would be able to transport up to 14 passengers, per TechCrunch.

Using hydrogen to power airships makes a lot of sense, points out Dr. Josef Kallo from the German Aerospace Center (DLR), which is also developing a 1.5MW fuel cell to power a 60-passenger aircraft. Kallo explains that airships would enable even more efficiency using fuel cells. 

LTA's future hydrogen fuel cells will be provided by third parties, as states in its job description.

LTA's vision for its airships is to "complement — and even speed up — humanitarian disaster response and relief efforts, especially in remote areas that cannot be easily accessed by plane and boat due to limited or destroyed infrastructure." 

As airships don't require landing strips or docking ports like planes and boats do, they can much more easily offer assistance in areas that don't have such infrastructure, or where these have been destroyed. 

On top of that, the company's airships would have zero emissions, substantially reducing the aviation industry's carbon footprint. 

No exact date has been disclosed as to when we can expect to see even a prototype of such an airship, but it's still great news to hear that people and companies are working towards these types of goals.

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