Discovery Park firm HyPoint in deal to test Hydrogen Fuel Cell equipped aircraft at Manston

Dr Alex Ivanenko, founder and CEO of HyPoint, with Tony Freudmann, director of RSP

A Silicon Valley-based US business which opened a site in Discovery Park at Sandwich in February has agreed a partnership with Manston airport owners RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP).

HyPoint is investing £11m in its team, research, development and production centre at Discovery Park as part of a commitment to advancing zero carbon-emission aviation. The company is developing turbo air-cooled hydrogen fuel cell systems for aviation and urban air mobility.

The NASA award-winning hydrogen fuel cell business is accelerating hydrogen innovation in the UK and, from its new facilities, HyPoint will apply its technology for a variety of aviation and urban air mobility uses, including for logistic drones, air taxis, electric vertical take-off and landing vehicles (eVTOLs), and fixed-wing airplanes.

The environmental potential offered by HyPoint was recognised by 10 Downing Street at the Green Investment Summit in October 2021.

The deal with RSP will enable HyPoint’s aviation customers to use the airport’s existing infrastructure and create new testing zones at Manston to evaluate HyPoint’s hydrogen fuel cell system in their new or retrofitted aircraft.

HyPoint and RSP say they have committed to exchange information about the development of hydrogen infrastructure in airports around the world; ongoing progress with respect to hydrogen fuel cell technology and usage; and various government and commercial initiatives related to hydrogen aviation.

The companies say they will also work together on related grant opportunities to implement the UK Net Zero Strategy and accelerate the transition to zero-emission aviation.

HyPoint founder and CEO Dr Alex Ivanenko said: “Along with HyPoint’s headquarters at Discovery Park in Sandwich, Kent is rapidly becoming the world’s go-to destination for hydrogen aviation innovation.

“This partnership will enable our customers to conduct real-world testing and evaluation of our hydrogen fuel cell systems in their aircraft — a critical step to bringing zero-emission hydrogen aviation to the world. In addition, our partnership will serve as a strategic pillar in the reopening of Manston Airport, which will be a boon for Kent and all of England.”

Tony Freudmann, of RSP, added: “Manston Airport has an illustrious history as a Battle of Britain airfield and, under our management, will have a promising future as a vibrant hub for international airfreight – one which delivers economic prosperity and employment across Kent and protects a strategic aviation resource for the nation.

“In addition to reopening Manston as a global freight hub, enabling the airport to fulfil its role in helping the UK trade across the globe and to import vital and time-sensitive goods, we plan to serve as an international hub for clean aviation development. We are excited to work alongside HyPoint and its customers to bring clean, safe, hydrogen-powered aircraft to market.”

Currently a new decision from government is awaited for a Development Consent Order for the Manston site.

The Development Consent Order granting approval in July 2020 for RSP’s air freight hub plan at Manston airport  was quashed in February last year with a new decision now needing to be issued after a re-examination of the Planning Inspectorate evidence.

The action came as the result of a Judicial Review challenge to the decision, launched by Ramsgate resident Jenny Dawes. A substantive hearing was due to look at whether the Government followed correct procedure in reaching the decision to approve the DCO for airport landowners RiverOak Strategic Partners despite the Examining Authority conclusion against approval which followed a lengthy process of public hearings in 2019.

The Department of Transport acknowledged that the decision approval letter issued from the Minister of State did not contain enough detail about why approval was given against the advice of the Planning Inspectorate and said the Judicial Review would not be contested.

In June 2021 the then Secretary of State appointed an independent aviation assessor to advise him on matters relating to the need for the development and to draft a report summarising those findings.

The report published in October looked at various arguments for and against need of the airport and concluded there was no need. RSP disputed the validity of the report.

The DCO is still waiting to be redetermined.

Tony Freudmann says the airport would boost economic growth and jobs in Kent and the work with HyPoint will help put East Kent and the UK at the forefront of clean aviation.

Aviation produced 2.4 per cent of global CO2 emissions in 2018, which as a country would rank the UK 6th in the world between Japan and Germany and represents a greater share of global CO2 emissions than the 136 lowest-polluting countries combined. Non-CO2 effects, such as warming induced by aircraft contrails and other pollutants, bring aviation’s combined total contribution to global warming to approximately 5 per cent.

With fossil fuelled airplanes sold today expected to be in operation for decades — and air transportation is expected to continually increase — aviation’s contribution to climate change is expected to grow rapidly compared with other sectors that are already decarbonising.

HyPoint says by 2050, aviation will be responsible for 25% of global greenhouse gas emissions, up from just 10% today — unless we do something. They add: “We can not solve the existential climate crisis without zero-emission air transportation.”

The company utilises compressed air for both cooling and oxygen supply to deliver a hydrogen fuel cell system that outperforms existing battery and hydrogen fuel cell alternatives. By utilising specialised high-temperature membranes and an air-cooling system, HyPoint’s technology delivers performance while reducing total system weight by more than 60 per cent.

HyPoint is working with ZeroAvia which, in 2020, became the first company to successfully complete a hydrogen-electric passenger aircraft flight. It has raised $115 million from investors that include United Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund, Breakthrough Energy Ventures (Bill Gates’ fund), Shell, and others.

61 Comments

  1. Excellent news, are these on top of, or included within, the 30,000 jobs the airport is going to create? They are already 5 years into their 20 year prediction to create 30,000 jobs…. are they into double figures yet ?

    • One one of the reasons the DCO failed was because no figures showing how many jobs would be created were shown, Duurh. So any that are now being banded about are pure figments of a very fevered imagination! No estimates for jobs were claimed because no “Demand” for Manston as a national asset, were ever shown. No demand, is why Manston has never been successful, Duurh!

      • The DCO did not fail it was successful. It was overturned as a result of a legal challenge because the SOS was asked to provide more detail and because of a Paris obligation that was subsequently overturned.

  2. This must be a bit of a conundrum for all the anti-airport people. Usually climate change is used as one reason not to have any planes taking off from there.

    Dont know a thing about hydrogen fuel tbh, is it supposed to be better for the environment or is it another grant sucking scheme that ends up being not much better?

      • If it were used for something else that wasn’t commercially viable, and didn’t disturb anyone, there probably wouldn’t be much fuss. Its the noise that concerns most, which is understandable.

        Would you want it there if it was viable?

    • Hydrogen, when reacted with oxygen, only produces electricity, a bit of heat, and water. That’s good.
      To produce hydrogen (it doesn’t occur on Earth naturally) requires a vast amount of energy. That’s bad.

      • Hydrogen fuel can be produced through electrolysis. Electrolysis can use green electricity (e.g., solar panels, wind). The electrolysis can be performed on-site at the airport, which means no more need to transport fuel for aviation.
        Hydrogen can also be produced using methane. This produces a relatively small amount of CO2 compared to other fuels.
        Hydrogen likely will be powering all long-distance aviation within 30 years.

      • Reply to “SeeSee”- I don’t want a cargo airport built anywhere near any town. It’s obvious that aviation should be drastically reduced for environmental reasons.

  3. This is brilliant news for all concerned that support Manston..
    Proving the need for the Airport, and the aspirations of RSP. The linkup with Discovery Park in the Research and Development of the hydrogen fuel and cells for aero engines is going to create a lot of global interest…
    Manston will be at the leading edge of the huge business and job creation this will bring…The potential is boundless…
    Clean , green fuel, is just the beginning !!
    This is just what the area needs to generate much needed well paid employment..
    Innovation at its best ..

    • Completely agree, Liam. Great to learn how Hypoint has realised the potential of Manston Airport to test its new and innovative clean planes. Great progress.

      • It hasn’t got any “new and innovative clean planes”. It hasn’t got any engines yet. It hasn’t got any fuel cells yet.
        A bit premature.

    • So Liam and Angela
      You have no infrastructure
      You have no airspace
      You have no DCO
      Yet TF has said you need two years to build a state of the art Cargo Hub

      and yet you don’t see any problems

      Oh dearie me

    • The need for an airport, especially a freight airport, is not based on whatever fuel is used. The need is based on the potential flow of cargo through that airport and its relationship to the geographical onward movement of those goods. RSP have repeatedly failed to prove that need. That was the finding of the Planning Inspectorate and most credible industry commentators

    • Hang on Liam the sheep haven’t stopped bleating yet. Even if there were a desalination plant built nearby the bleaters would start grumbling that you will be reducing the sea level and where will all that salt go.

  4. Lol, the SMAA brigade thinking this substantiates the need for a cargo hub at Manston 😂. Any improvement in fossil fuel aviation is needed but the geographical location of the site STILL doesn’t mean flights in and out will be needed. As has been said thousands of times, there are more better geographically placed airports with existing networks and systems in place. Unless this fuel development magically creates a portal between Manston and central England the airport is still going to be pointless. These better paid scientific jobs will be needed so it’s better for RSP to focus their attention on this than pie in the sky cargo hubs.

  5. A test bed for hydrogen fuelled planes (and barges) is one thing, and cautiously to be welcomed.
    A massive air cargo hub is a different kettle of fish entirely.
    There was no need for Manston decades ago.
    There was no need for Manston when it came to shipping out aid to Ukraine a few months ago.
    There’s still no need for a freight hub at Manston.

    As a fuel, hydrogen produces no CO2. Its only combustion product is water vapour. This is actually a greenhouse gas, but condenses very quickly as rain.

    The big problem is: where do you get the hydrogen from? Industrially, it’s produced from fossil fuels, which rather defeats the object. It can also be produced by electrolysis of water, but that needs vast amounts of electricity. Currently (no pun) half our electricity is generated by burning fossil fuels. Still not very green.

    Discovery Park is becoming quite a hotbed for science and technology innovation. That’s great. At least it is if some use, and employs people.
    Unlike Manston.

  6. 30,000 jobs if we get an airport at Manston!!?? 30,000? I know developers always exaggerate the number of jobs to be created to get support for their schemes but that is just ridiculous!
    Where would they all come from?(Let alone, where would they all live?)
    We already have a shortage of staff in the NHS, at Gatwick and Heathrow airports, in bars , restaurants and hotels. There are signs everywhere for kitchen staff, care workers and shop assistants.
    There is even a long term shortage of lorry drivers.
    Maybe, if the supporters of an airport at Manston thought about how to sell their unlikely scheme, they should talk about how FEW workers it would need. So it could actually start and then manage to keep going!!!
    Of course, then the airport would need actual freight aircraft to want to land there, miles from the centre of the country.

  7. New hydrogen air technology being tested around a dense residential area. Don’t mention Hindenburg.

    It definitely won’t be relevant to highlight that ZeroAvia’s first ‘commercial’ test plane crashed in a non-residential area around Cranfield airport: https://www.bedfordindependent.co.uk/hydrogen-powered-plane-crashes-during-test-flight-at-cranfield/

    Regardless of these facts, there’s still ‘need’ for this at Manston, the noise of aircraft over residential areas, automation of those 30k promised jobs and the small matter of CAA approval for all this.

    Hold my beer while I go hunting for some rocking horse poop. I’ll be back before RSP delivers.

  8. Poor DFL’s, the dawning of the fact that Manston Airport, is on the verge of re-opening, with these partnerships being announced, money talks, time DFL’s walks!!!!

    • Manston “Airport” isn’t on the verge of anything. It has, however, been on the verge of bankruptcy several times, at least once under Tony Freudmann.

      Nothing can fly from it, not even test bed aircraft for hydrogen powered engines, unless the place has (at the very least) a CAA licence. RSP’s application for a licence is lost in the long grass (on the verge of the runway). It was rejected by the Authority at an early stage of the application.

      And even if RSP do get their CAA licence, and the DCO (or PP from TDC), flying the very occasional test flight is hardly going to be a roaring financial success. Nor is it likely to employ 30,000 people.

      However, one mustn’t knock the “Green” potential. The engines could be shipped on Mr Freudmann’s electric barges from Discovery Park round to Ramsgate, then trucked up to Ramsgate station, conveyed by train to the new Thanet Parkway Station, and thence to Manston.

    • You’ll have to move out sooner, as you wont be able to afford living here with all of us DFLs increasing prices. Its happening faster than you can get to the Mariners. Kings Rd is being transformed, Harbour Parade as well. Nothing can stop gentrification, and the pauper brigade in Ramsgate aint gonna be the first.

  9. A clever move. Opening a door to grant finance, “existing infrastructure” should require no permissions (including airspace), so last the “company with no money” (Chris Wells) should be able to recoup some of the £32 Million plus invested in the project so far. Also, a clear signal that RSP and aviation use are here to stay, in accordance with the Local Plan.

    • The Local Plan only reserves Manston for aviation only until the DCO is turned down.
      Chris Wells wasn’t the only Leader to turn down RSP’ CPO request: Iris Johnson did too. Both because RSP was unable or unwilling to show where the £300M (and counting) was. (That’s still the case)
      Quite frankly, I can cope with the occasional test flight of a hydrogen fueled prop driven light aircraft. But that’s a long way from a fully functioning 24×7 cargo hub. Thank goodness.

      • If Wells had carried out the mandate given to him by the electorate, in what was, in effect, a single issue election, in stead of finding a reason not to, for what in my personal opinion where the worst possible motives, the £27 million Airport project would now be finished with aircraft flying from it. RSP bought the airport with the money Wells said they did not have and also finance the DCO, RSP clearly , obviously and demonstrable did have the money all Wells had to do was cooperative and wait a few weeks.

        • Chris Wells, Leader of the UKIP TDC, with a manifesto pledge to get planes flying from Manston, didn’t.
          Why not?
          1) Because RSP wouldn’t or couldn’t show where the money was;
          2) An expert report commissioned by TDC showed that aviation at Manston was a non starter.
          Since then, at least a dozen expert opinions have come to the same conclusion: there is no unmet demand, and even if there was, Manston is in the wrong place to meet it.

          • 1. Covered by the above.
            2. Try to understand that “experts” produce the conclusion that they are paid and commissioned to report, in this case, £50K of the local taxpayer’s money, commissioned by Wells to justify his actions. Reports differ on this issue.

            Wells was not asked to “evaluate the project” by the electorate he was tasked to proceed with, if he had, it would have been built by RSP at their risk, not TDC’s using the money that they clearly did have because they have spent more than that to date without laying a brick.
            Wells also said that the DCO “would never be accepted” based on his “expert report”. It was accepted.
            I note that the “ethical standards officer” who was provided with a high-quality HD video where Wells appeared to not conform to ethical standards, but refused to investigate was fairly dismissed.
            I suspect from your ludicrous assertion that RSP could not have provided the funds that they actually provided after they actually spent them in public in front of your eyes, that you are either quite mad or have another motive.

            .

        • It’d be nice to know, if RSP had/have the money, where they’re getting it from.
          TDC should have encouraged SHP and accepted their plans- there would be housing and industry on our largest local brownfield site by now ,if they had.

        • RSP did not demonstrate or could not demonstrate that they had the funds (irrespective of how much they might have spent since). No council leader could undertake a multi million pound partnership where all the financial risk was carried by the tax payer. So no CPO was approved.
          That the decision was the correct one was supported by the report commissioned by TDC. To suggest that Chris Wells wanted a negative report is crazy. He was the leader of UKIP, whose manifesto pledge was to open the airport.
          Even if that report was dubious, it’s main thrust, that there is no unmet demand, and even if there is, Manston is not the place for it, has been supported by a dozen other reports, by the Planning Inspectorate, and by Ove Arup.
          The only people who think that commercial aviation will work at Manston are Sally Dixon and a few deluded fantasists.
          And just where is the >£300,000,000 RSP needs to get the project off the ground?

          • As you will recall RSP put £2 million in a solicitor’s account to indemnify you for any out-of-pocket administrative expenses incurred. All you had to do was wait for them to collect obligations from their investors, in a cooperative manner. The time limit was imposed by TDC for reasons invented by you to kill the deal. Waiting for a few months imposed no risk on anybody at all whatsoever. If you had proceeded as instructed by the electorate (after a pause) with the appropriate indemnities the anti-airport report would have been provided by SHP via RSP vs SHP so you also wasted £50k of the taxpayer’s money providing a report (I believe) on behalf of your lobbyists

            RS’s funding was examined in detail by the Planning Inspectorate and not found to be an issue so stop retrospectively justifying your appalling maladministration for a new audience and go away.

            END.

    • That local plan is based on a lot of noise made some years ago by a group of airport supporters , which caused the members of TDC to make a very misguided decision. Why hasn’t Grant Shapps got around to making a sensible decision yet,by the way?

      • It’s nteresting to see that Julian Eagle’s 10.57 message to Chris Wells assumes that the latter is commenting here under a pseudonym.

      • CONTINUED

        £2M would not protect the council if (as seems certain) a resurrected Manston failed. The Thanet tax payers would be faced with a huge bill. That’s why neither Iris nor Chris went along with RSP’s CPO scheme.

        The PI spent months trying to establish where RSP’s funding was to come from. Indeed, it was established that they had some loose change knocking around the back of the sofa. But what of the >£300,000,000 needed to get the project running?
        RSP said that, once the DCO was approved, they would be inviting investment from carefully selected investors, and by bank loans. In other words, RSP don’t have any money, and they don’t have any investors.
        Louise Congdon, Managing Partner of York Aviation, (international aviation experts) has looked at RSP’s (very limited) business case. It’s her opinion that RSP would not be able to earn enough money to pay interest on the loans or dividends to investors.

        But that’s all academic.

        The PI turned down the DCO application, and more than a dozen expert reports (including York Aviation) over a period of years give weight to the PI’s decision; and Ove Arup has confirmed that nothing has materially changed since the PI’s conclusion: there is no unmet cargo demand, and even if there were, Manston is in quite the wrong place to meet it.
        (Note that at the beginning of the Ukrainian invasion, RSP and Roger Gale were keen to offer Manston to fly out aid. The government declined, saying that they already had plenty of spare capacity at other airports)

        What I’m curious about is “what is RSP really up to”? Their application for a CAA licence, for example, (needed even to fly the occasional test plane) has been stuck at Stage 2 (of 14) since April last year. And no progress whatsoever had been made about the relocation of the MoD’s HRDF aerial. Do they *really* want a loss-making airport?

        TO BE CONTINUED

  10. You have to hand it to our Tony. He could sell snow to eskimo’s but sadly all the schemes he gets involved with melt away like snow after gobbling up millions of other peoples money.

  11. Other airports are available!
    I have not seen any hydrogen but I could see plenty of methane seeping out from someone’s backside as he produced a bottle of snake oil from his nether regions.
    Look, one hydrogen engine does not an airport make!
    If Hypoint want to use a bit of Manston to experiment with a small hydrogen powered engine, I see no harm in that, but it is a big shift in credibility, to then suggest that this changes the dynamics for Manston.
    How long as it been since the DCO launched and then belly flopped, after the judicial review? 2 years? Come on!
    If there was a way of meeting all the Planning Inspector’s careful assessments (leaving aside all the many reports that find the airport unviable), don’t you think the DFT would have found them by now?
    The DFT is merely waiting for Shapps to be posted to Northern Ireland or Minister for the Falklands, or Minister in charge of paperclip procurement, or some such important career busting position.When that happens this whole sorry saga will be consigned to the dustbin of history.
    Perhaps then the pro manston group will stop:
    # calling those against the airport snowflakes or worse.
    # being misogynists ,just because some of those against manston, are women.
    #Being anti DFL’s,just because some people from other parts of the UK have chosen to settle down in this area.
    # listening to Tony Freudmann, because Tone is only interested in his personal well being,not yours.I bet if someone offered him enough cash, he would say the opposite of what he says now.

    As a point of interest: the Hindenburg was designed to use Helium ( which incidentally received its name from a British Astronomer, Sir Norman Lockyer).Unfortunately,the Hindenburg was decorated with a swastika, and the only large source of helium at the time was the USA, which entertained great suspicions about the Nazi government and therefore embargoed said use of helium.Paul Von Hindenburg, actually took his name from another part of his family.I don’t think the destruction of the Beneckendorff, would have made as much impact.Sometimes a name change can turbocharge a brand beyond its normal limits!
    In fact the Zeppelin Reederei operated the Graf Zeppelin successfully for 8 years without incident, and the Hindenburg was on its second season. The US navy lost two helium filled airships, the Macon and Akron, a few years prior to the loss of the Hindenburg.

  12. Yes the “anti’s” are at it again. Minister grant that DCO and get Manston open again, and bring investment into the area
    ps I live on the flight path and Manston is not the place for houses!!

    • Manston is certainly not the place for a commercial cargo hub.
      Past experience and more than a dozen expert reports say so.

    • Ah the old ‘anti’ insult ! There is a HUGE difference between being anti-airport and not having one iota of trust in what RSP is saying and how they are pulling wool over peoples’ eyes….

  13. So people who want houses built on manston,think on ,3700 houses of 2 adults and 2 children per house,that’s 14800,people if they have 1 car per house 3700,cars, in 20 years that’s a possible minimum 15000,cars if everyone has 2 children the the number is much higher,in 40 years it’s astronomical ,and people will be moaning about to many cars,pollution through the sky,yes the cup may change but where don the minerals come from ,to make chips etc for the computers ,more deforestation more climate change,if building 3700 homes is repeated all over millions and millions of extra care etc less water just think on

    • You’re the only one that’s mentioned house building at Manston.
      I assume that you’ve been out of touch for the past half dozen ir so years?
      The houses that get to be built here are determined by the Local Plan, not by whether planes fly from Manston or not.
      Either we get thousands of houses, or we get thousands of houses and an airport.
      Which is the better option, do you think?

    • Ray – do the sums on a ‘successful airport’ and work out the number of vehicle movements for somewhere similar for Gatwick or Heathrow, add in all the thousands of people that they say they will employ, then all the supposed freight in and out, the don’t forget there is no fuel line so that will need to be lorried in. How will that compare with your 15,000 cars? Gatwick has well over 40,000 car spaces in the vicinity !

  14. I’ll file this under “Electric Barges” right next door to the “Manston Unicorns” file.

    Testing fuel for alternative aviation power estimated to be at least 30 years from mainstream fruition, is hardly the same as someone agreeing there is a need for a cargo plane landing over Ramsgate every 12 minutes. One is a sensible ecological evolution the other is a stupid fantasy plan.

    SMA will just have to put a bung in their trumpet as the quietly play some suitable Battle of Britain music out of tune round the back of the perimeter fence.

    What next? Ice cream van parks near Manston indicates need for cargo hub?

    • You’ve got to feel sorry for the SMAa crew being led up the garden path……….!

      Freudmann knows their dreams are about to be shattered but the SMAa Ultras are too timid to seek the truth.

  15. Dont know what the arguments are about. Manston will never reopen as an airport. End of story, remember most people dont want it just a few people living in the past. Dfls by the way have been a boon for thanet

  16. I wonder why, with more than a million vacancies in the UK, those who support Tony’s vanity project (always him on friendly media, never a board of people…) in the name of ‘jobs for the youth’ dont encourage those youth to take those jobs…

    Focusing on the latest miracle solution, we must remember thst before we were told:
    – Cargo
    – later on, passengers
    – after, barges up the Thames
    – and salvage reclaim company
    – thanks to Ukraine war, emergency relief,
    – and support for Priti’s deportation flights
    – and now hydrogen fuel for test flights (like Top Gun: Freudmann?)

    And the only time Manston’s made any money was when it was used as a lorry park…

    Maybe Nana ‘Westminster’ Stevens needs to rattle the cage a bit more, as she said she’d do last September, and January, and March…

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