Reaction Engines joins Cranfield Aerospace on Project Fresson to develop hydrogen fuel cell powered aircraft

October 20, 2021
Reaction Engines joins Cranfield Aerospace on Project Fresson to develop hydrogen fuel cell powered aircraft

Culham, Oxfordshire (UK), 20 October 2021: We are pleased to announce that Reaction Engines has joined the Project Fresson consortium led by Cranfield Aerospace (CAeS). Project Fresson aims to accelerate the journey to zero-emissions passenger-carrying aircraft through using hydrogen fuel cell technology and Reaction Engines has been selected to provide the fuel cell cooling technology.

With Reaction Engines’ expertise gained through developing revolutionary thermal management technology on the SABRE programme and for applications in the motorsport, energy, and aerospace industries, we are well-placed to develop an innovative solution on a truly unique project and act as a key enabler of hydrogen fuel cell technology.

Rob Marsh, Project Fresson Chief Engineer had this to say:

“Reaction Engines bring to Fresson their world-leading thermal management technology, which is critical to our hydrogen propulsion development; in return, Cranfield Aerospace Solutions and Project Fresson provide a credible and quick route to flight demonstration and certification of this exciting technology”

Project Fresson is a UK funded project via the Aerospace Technology Institute to integrate hydrogen fuel cell technology into a 9-seat Britten Norman Islander. Reaction Engines will develop a bespoke ultra-low drag heat rejection system to deliver the project’s fuel cell cooling requirements.

Thomas Burvill, Director of Applied Technologies at Reaction Engines had this to say about the project:

“Project Fresson represents an opportunity to leverage Reaction Engines’ unique thermal management technology developed over a number of years across a range of industries. We are excited to be part of this important project and look forward to playing our part in moving the needle on zero-emissions flight”

Reaction Engines joins a host of prestigious British companies on the consortium, including Ricardo, Britten-Norman and Innovatus Technologies who will work together to accelerate hydrogen fuel cell technology and prove its operational and commercial viability.

Jenny Kavanagh, Chief Strategy Officer at CAeS had this to say regarding Reaction Engines joining the consortium:

“We are delighted to welcome Reaction Engines to the FRESSON consortium; another UK company joining us in pushing the boundaries to achieve zero-emissions passenger flight”.

Project Fresson marks the latest initiative in a series of sustainable technology projects that Reaction Engines is involved in. Last year it launched HXLIFE Foils, an isothermal battery cooling system for electric vehicles that extends range and battery life as well as significantly reducing charging times. The company has also developed a waste heat recovery heat exchanger for Brunel University using Supercritical CO2 as the working fluid to significantly reduce carbon emissions in industrial processes.

Mark Thomas, CEO of Reaction Engines concluded:

“Reaction Engines is committed to developing sustainable technologies that underpin UK and global net-zero targets. Through our ground-breaking work in batteries for electric vehicles, waste heat recovery and hydrogen fuel cell cooling, we are using our experience, technology and intellectual property to drive real change”.


Notes to Editors:

About Reaction Engines: Reaction Engines is a privately held technology company pioneering space access and sustainable technologies. The Company is based in Culham, Oxfordshire, UK and Denver, Colorado, US and employs over 200 staff across its sites.

Reaction Engines has been at the forefront of engineering innovation for over 30 years, principally developing SABRE, a revolutionary new class of aerospace propulsion. SABRE enables us to go beyond the limits of flight both within and outside the atmosphere. Making space and high-speed travel more efficient, more accessible, more possible.

The Company is supported by the UK Space Agency and European Space Agency and the US team is working with DARPA, US Air Force and leading Industry Partners. In addition to private capital funding, in recent years Reaction Engines has received investment from BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce and Boeing HorizonX.

Developed for SABRE, our proprietary precooler technology is truly transformational, delivering world-leading heat transfer capabilities across diverse industries to improve performance in motorsport, convert waste heat into renewable electricity and support more sustainable aviation.

Our revolutionary thermal management solutions have the potential to elevate life on Earth.

More information about Reaction Engines can be found at

About Cranfield Aerospace Solutions: CAeS is the UK SME leading the Project Fresson consortium, a UK funded project via the Aerospace Technology Institute, to integrate hydrogen fuel cell technology into the 9-seat Britten Norman Islander, delivering a zero-emissions aircraft solution for aviation. CAeS is one of very few aerospace SMEs globally to have both whole aircraft concept design capability, and to hold a range of regulatory approvals for the design and manufacture of modifications to existing aircraft. CAeS is based at Cranfield Airport where they have access to some of the UK’s most advanced aviation research facilities.