Project Fresson has a clear and ambitious aim to develop the world’s first regulatory-certified zero-emissions commercial passenger aircraft using hydrogen fuel cell technology.
Reaction Engines announced that it joined the Project Fresson consortium led by CAeS in October 2021, with the aim to apply its revolutionary thermal management technology developed as part of the SABRE programme, to act as a key enabler for hydrogen fuel cell applications.
Project Fresson is currently in the first phase of a multi-phase programme, which will eventually see the production of a range of green aircraft. Phase 1 is a critical first step, which will see fully integrated zero emissions aircraft certified, further accelerating the progress of later stages. As part of this first phase, CAeS is developing a conversion of the 9-PAX Britten-Norman Islander aircraft with a hydrogen fuel cell propulsion unit, in partnership with the OEM, Britten-Norman to modify the existing airframe.
Reaction Engines’ heat exchanger technology has been demonstrated as a key enabler for a lightweight and low drag solution. Integration sizing trade-offs using the Company’s proprietary design and optimisation software have been conducted to fully explore the design space and achieve an optimal solution at aircraft level by balancing mass, drag, volume and heat transfer. Coupled aerodynamic and heat transfer CFD has been used to validate the chosen solution, with mechanical design, structural and aerothermal teams having worked in parallel to realise a design which meets performance and durability requirements. The radiator core is being manufactured and component materials testing and strength trials are underway, prior to integration in the test unit assembly. This unit will undergo rigorous performance and durability testing to verify the suitability of the design for subsequent flight units, which will follow shortly afterwards ready for the demonstrator aircraft.
Rob Marsh, Head of Engineering and Project Fresson Chief Engineer, at Cranfield Aerospace Solutions (CAeS) said: “Reaction Engines’ world-leading technology delivers to Project Fresson an elegant, efficient, light and low-drag solution to handle over 600kW of rejected heat, for the first time at this scale, on a fully hydrogen-powered, twin-engine passenger aeroplane.”
Kathryn Evans, Aerospace Sector Lead at Reaction Engines said: “We are thrilled to be involved in such an innovative project. It is immensely exciting that Reaction Engines’ ground-breaking technologies are being applied to unlock net-zero solutions in hard-to-decarbonise sectors such as aviation, and we look forward to seeing what more can be achieved as Project Fresson develops.”