On Wednesday, hydrogen plane startup ZeroAvia stated it had secured $21.4 million in a funding round led by Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures to develop zero-emission commercial aircraft.
The startup’s prototype hydrogen powered propeller plane has already completed 10 test flights. Its backers includes Amazon and energy giant Royal Dutch Shell.
Hydrogen, which produces water when burned, is seen as a potential alternative for the aviation industry, which has a large fossil fuel footprint. While hydrogen can be made from fossil fuels or from water using electrolysis, it is an expensive process.
“This is a capital-intensive industry, so having investors to help you through the process is very important,” said Val Miftakhov, ZeroAvia’s CEO while adding, a plane was “a power-hungry machine, especially on take off.”
ZeroAvia, which has been conducting test flights in Britain, aims for commercial flights of up to 500 miles using 10- to 20-seat aircraft by 2023 and commercial jets able to haul up to 200 passengers 3,000 miles by 2030.
The startup expects to begin cargo flights before commencing flights for passenger planes.
In its latest funding round, ZeroAvia raised $34.4 million, enabling it to scale up its technology for testing on larger aircraft. It has also entered into an agreement with British Airways to explore how the carrier could transition to hydrogen-powered planes in the future.