Australia-based Fortescue Future Industries (FFI) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Los Angeles-based Universal Hydrogen (UH2) to decarbonise the aviation sector using green hydrogen.

The companies will negotiate an international offtake arrangement, under which UH2 will receive green hydrogen from FFI to power regional and other aviation industries till 2035.

They will carry out a scoping study for the establishment of green hydrogen production and logistics hubs in New Zealand, Southeast Queensland and Iceland.

The companies will also assess the future demand of green hydrogen in the aviation industry on a region-by-region basis to recognise and encourage its adoption.

Under the partnership, FFI will be responsible for green hydrogen production activities and delivery to markets or green H2 Hubs.

UH2 will look after on-airport fuel services and delivery logistics for airports.

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FFI chairman Dr Andrew Forrest AO said: “Our collaboration lays the foundations for a zero-emissions aviation industry in the near-term future. Currently, aviation accounts for 2.5% of global carbon dioxide emissions, and emissions have doubled since the 1980s.

“Electrifying our planes will only go so far and will only be appropriate for smaller aircraft, due to current limitations around battery technologies. Green hydrogen, in contrast, is a practical solution we can use right now.”

Currently, UH2 is working on the development of a ‘flexible, scalable and capital-light’ solution for hydrogen logistics through its capsule technology.

These capsules, which will contain gaseous and liquid hydrogen, will be supplied from the production’s site to the aircraft directly using current freight networks and cargo handling equipment.

In addition, UH2 is creating a powertrain retrofit kit, allowing regional passenger and cargo aircraft to be transformed to operate on hydrogen.

The company is expected to conduct the first test flight of its technology next year, with revenue services slated for 2025.