Destinus, a Swiss start-up, has been developing a hydrogen-powered passenger jet that can reduce travel time from Europe to Australia to just over four hours, compared to the current 20-hour flight. The company has tested its prototype Eiger for the past two years and announced successful test flights at the end of 2022. Now, the Spanish Ministry of Science has chosen Destinus to take part in a strategic initiative and give them money to do more research and development on a supersonic flight that uses hydrogen as fuel.

Companies, technology centers, and Spanish universities are all working on the project, which costs €12 million. Destinus is working with the Spanish engine company ITP Aero to build a facility to test hydrogen engines. The Spanish government grant will fund the construction of a test facility near Madrid where the air-breathing hydrogen engines will be put through their paces. A second grant project worth €15 million will pay for research into how to move things with liquid hydrogen.

Hydrogen power is the subject of a lot of research and development due to its green credentials, with the main byproducts of hydrogen combustion being heat and water. Researchers at RMIT University in Melbourne have made 3D-printed catalysts that can power five-times-the-speed-of-sound flight and cool down the extreme heat that is made when planes fly that fast. Future commercial airlines flying at those speeds could fly between London and New York in around 90 minutes.

Destinus claims that its technology will make a flight from Frankfurt to Sydney last just 4 hours, 15 minutes, and a flight from Frankfurt to Shanghai would take 2 hours, 45 minutes—eight hours shorter than the current journey. The project is part of Spain’s effort to be at the front of the pack when developing and making hydrogen-based vehicles for transportation in different fields.

Davide Bonetti, VP of Business Development and Products for Destinus, said, “We are delighted to have been awarded these grants, especially because they are a clear sign that Destinus is aligned with the strategic lines of Spain and Europe to advance hydrogen flight.”

“For deep tech companies like us, access to these EU recovery funds is essential to carry out advanced research and accelerate the innovation needed to compete globally. With these grants, hydrogen-based solutions for aeronautical mobility will be one step closer to becoming a reality,” he added.

With the grants, Destinus will soon flight test an H2 post-combustor jet engine while working to accelerate hydrogen-only engine technology. The Spanish government invests heavily in developing hydrogen propulsion as part of its economic resilience and transformation plan through strategic projects funded by the European Commission’s Next Gen funds. This aligns with the Spanish Plan Nacional del Hidrógeno, which aims to make Spain a world leader in producing renewable hydrogen and developing hydrogen-based mobility in various sectors.