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March 23, 2023

WPI partners with aerospace company to research carbon footprint reduction

Photo | Grant Welker Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester

Worcester Polytechnic Institute has entered into a research partnership with Honeywell Aerospace to examine methods involving hydrogen fuel cells to reduce the carbon footprint of the aviation industry.

The partnership will fund three PhD students and numerous undergraduates over the next several years, according to a Wednesday announcement from WPI. The multiyear contract will pursue development of hydrogen storage and power generation technology. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Phoenix-based Honeywell is an aircraft engine manufacturer and produces auxiliary power units and other aviation products. Its technology is used in a variety of ways on commercial flights, and the company is working to improve environmental sustainability as outlined by the Aerospace Industries Association, according to its website. 

“The aviation industry has recognized an imperative to de-carbonize, which is extremely challenging in the weight and volume constrained environment of an aircraft,” Andrew Teixeira, assistant professor of chemical engineering at WPI and project lead, said in the announcement.

Honeywell will supply hydrogen equipment and is utilizing WPI lab space, with roughly 25 employees expected to have a presence in the labs. 

“Hydrogen, along with sustainable aviation fuels and aircraft electrification, represents a huge opportunity for the aerospace industry to meet the UN’s 2050 climate targets,” Teixeira said. “The collaboration with Honeywell will accelerate the process because the partnership permits WPI researchers to focus on the scientific bottlenecks, while Honeywell provides leading expertise on aerospace productization and certification.”

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