Rolls-Royce And Hyundai Sign MOU For Hydrogen And Electric AAM Propulsion

Rolls-Royce and the Hyundai Motor Group have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to bring all-electric propulsion and hydrogen fuel cell technology to the Advanced Air Mobility sector. The MOU was signed yesterday at the Farnborough Airshow, in the presence of Rolls-Royce CEO Warren East and Hyundai Motor Group Executive Chair Euisun Chung.

(From left) Rolls-Royce CEO Warren East and Hyundai Motor Group Executive Chair Euisun Chung display the MOU at the Farnborough Airshow. Photo: Rolls-Royce

Is this a perfect match for advanced air mobility propulsion?

The two organizations share a vision of leading the way in the advanced air mobility (AAM) market by delivering battery-electric and fuel cell electric solutions to the Urban Air Mobility (UAM) and Regional Air Mobility (RAM) markets and advancing sustainable aviation. The MOU will combine Rolls-Royce’s aviation and certification capabilities with Hyundai’s hydrogen fuel cell technologies and industrialization capability. This MOU stands out because it specifies tangible and measurable goals the partners have set out to achieve. It has five strategic aims:

  • Collaborating on the technology development and requirements of power and propulsion systems for Hyundai’s Advanced Air Mobility Division.
  • Collaborating on the industrialization of Rolls-Royce power and propulsion systems for the Advanced Air Mobility market.
  • Development of electric propulsion systems based upon hydrogen fuel cells as an energy source for Hyundai’s RAM platforms.
  • Collaborating to bring to market a joint fuel-cell electric propulsion system to the wider AAM market.
  • Delivering a joint fuel-cell electric aircraft demonstration by 2025.

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President of Rolls-Royce Electrical, Rob Watson, was at the signing ceremony and said the MOU is a valuable opportunity to leverage and build on each company’s capabilities from the aerospace and automotive sectors.

“The advanced air mobility market offers great commercial potential, and this collaboration supports our joint ambitions to lead the way. It is also another demonstration of Rolls-Royce’s role in delivering the solutions that will enable passengers to travel sustainably and help deliver net zero carbon by 2050.”

The partners say that using a hydrogen fuel cell in an all-electric aircraft propulsion system brings zero-emission, silent and reliable onboard power that enables scalability and long-distance flight range. The pair are looking to bring hydrogen fuel cells, storage systems and infrastructure to aerospace markets, and to Hyundai’s RAM vehicles and Rolls-Royce’s all-electric and hybrid-electric propulsion products.

They need an electric solution by 2028 for Supernal’s eVTOL

Part of the Hyundai Motor Group, Supernal is developing its eVTOL for the urban, intra-city market for a 2028 launch. Photo: Supernal

The MOU signing was at the booth of Supernal, part of the Hyundai Motor Group, an advanced air mobility company that is aiming to commence commercial services in the US in 2028. On display was an initial cabin concept of Supernal’s electric eVTOL, developed in partnership with Hyundai’s top automotive designers. The idea is to produce a safe, light-weight commercial eVTOL that gives passengers the same security and comfort that they feel in their own cars. While Supernal concentrates on intra-city travel, Hyundai focuses on the regional Air Mobility market and developing a hydrogen-powered mid-sized vehicle for city-to-city cargo and passenger journeys, which it hopes to begin in the 2030s.

In 2021, Rolls-Royce laid out its pathway to net-zero carbon emissions, nominating its electrical technology as one way it can help decarbonize critical parts of the global economy. The company declared it is committed to ensuring its new products will be compatible with net zero carbon operation by 2030 and all its products will be compatible with net zero carbon by 2050. Hyundai has its own goal to harness its automotive manufacturing heritage to make advanced air mobility accessible to the world and it has the resources to achieve that.

If they can bring their skills together effectively, then perhaps the dream of hydrogen-powered, clean flight is not that far away?

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