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ZeroAvia hydrogen-electric powertrain undergoes Ansys simulation

ZeroAvia is leveraging Ansys simulation solutions in the development of its new, sustainable hydrogen-electric powertrain developed to reduce aircraft emissions.

Above: Ansys solutions enable development and certification of ZeroAvia's hydrogen-electric powertrain for aircraft that emits only water.
Courtesy ZeroAvia

ZeroAvia is using Ansys simulation to help address challenges linked to thermal management, safety, fatigue and lifting, along with Ansys' certified model-based solution to develop and certify the embedded engine controls. Ansys simulations are applied from early design stages through certification of all critical aspects of ZeroAvia's sustainable powertrain.

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Hydrogen-electric propulsion technology can produce 90% less lifecycle emissions than jet fuel-powered turbines and ZeroAvia predicts its powertrain will result in substantially lower operating costs.

ZeroAvia demonstrated the potential for zero-emission flight through flying the world's largest hydrogen-electric powered aircraft, a Piper Malibu. ZeroAvia engineers leveraged Ansys multiphysics simulations — including structural analysis, fluid dynamics, FSI, electromagnetic, and electromechanical analysis — to help make this electric-powered plane a reality.

The ZeroAvia system uses electricity generated by a solar panel to run an air compression pump. When combined with hydrogen stored in an on-board tank, oxygen from the compressed air reacts with hydrogen in the fuel cell to produce electricity to power an electric airplane motor. Water is the only emission from this process — no carbon-based greenhouse gases.

The ZeroAvia team used Ansys SCADE to automatically generate the code controlling the motor, which helps reduce human error and costly coding mistakes. ZeroAvia also leveraged Ansys medini analyse software to validate the safety of the aircraft's hydro-electric systems – supporting and accelerating the stringent certification process.

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"Without Ansys, we would still be writing code for high-level application, which would have increased the development and verification," said Youcef Abdelli, chief technology officer and chief engineer of electric propulsion systems at ZeroAvia. "For system certification, we use Ansys simulation to support the critical aspects of hydrogen-electric engine design - including thermal, safety, certification, stress, fatigue, and lifting."

ZeroAvia will soon fly a retrofitted Dornier 228 aircraft to flight test its market-entry product - a 600kW hydrogen-electric powertrain designed for 9-19 seat aircraft to be commercialized by 2024. ZeroAvia is also already working on developing a 2-5MW powertrain capable of flying 40-80 seat aircraft by 2026. For these two certified-intent systems, ZeroAvia is working with Ansys software.

"Ansys simulation has long been used for aircraft control code, so we are excited to see that startup companies with new ideas like ZeroAvia are turning to Ansys to accelerate development of their hydrogen fuel cell aircraft," said Walt Hearn, vice president of global sales and customer excellence at Ansys. "By reducing aviation emissions, their hydrogen-electric powertrains will support global efforts to halt climate change."
 

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