Story at a glance

  • ZeroAvia on Wednesday announced it raised $21.4 million in funding from investors, including Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund, Breakthrough Energy Ventures — a company established by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates — and Shell Ventures.
  • The funding will be used for the ongoing development of the startup’s ZA-600 hydrogen fuel cell powertrain, which converts hydrogen into electricity to power an airplane motor.
  • The California-based startup is aiming to commercialize its technology over the next three years with flights up to 500 miles in airplanes with up to 20 seats.

A hydrogen airplane startup aiming to accelerate zero emission commercial air travel is getting some major backing. 

ZeroAvia on Wednesday announced it raised $21.4 million in series A funding from investors including Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund, Breakthrough Energy Ventures — a company established by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates — and Shell Ventures. Other investors include Ecosystem Integrity Fund, Horizons Ventures and Summa Equity. 


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Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos established the Amazon Climate Pledge last year to support the development of sustainable technologies so Amazon and other companies can achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2040, 10 years ahead of the Paris climate agreement. 

The funding will be used for the ongoing development of the startup’s ZA-600 hydrogen fuel cell powertrain, which converts hydrogen into electricity to power an airplane motor. ZeroAvia said the ZA-600 is capable of flying a 10- to 20-seat aircraft up to 500 miles. 

In addition to that, the company secured $16.3 million from the U.K. government for its 19-seat hydrogen-electric powered aircraft that it says will be ready by 2023. ZeroAvia also partnered with British Airways to aid the airline in transitioning its fleet from fossil fuels to hydrogen power. 

“Our most recent milestone achievements are closing the gap for the airline industry to begin its transition away from fossil fuels,” Val Miftakhov, founder and CEO of ZeroAvia, said. He said that more than 10 airlines are readying to use the company’s technology once it’s ready for sale in 2023. 

The California-based startup is aiming to commercialize its technology over the next three years with flights up to 500 miles in airplanes with up to 20 seats. By 2030, it hopes to fly hydrogen-powered aircraft with more than 100 seats. 

Back in September, ZeroAvia carried out the world’s first hydrogen fuel-cell-powered flight of a commercial aircraft. The six-seater plane took off from the company’s research and development facility in Cranfield, England, and flew for 20 minutes before landing. 

The investment comes as the aviation industry is facing increasing pressure to cut carbon emissions that contribute to global warming. The aviation industry contributed more than 1 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere last year, according to BloombergNEF

The latest report from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) found total global greenhouse gas emissions increased by an average of 1.4 percent each year since 2010, with a sharper increase seen worldwide of 2.6 percent in 2019. Total carbon dioxide emissions were equivalent to 59.1 gigatons last year, setting an alarming new record.


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Published on Dec 16, 2020