Nour Eid • 26.06.24 • 4 min read

Hydrogen Capability Network – the test infrastructure landscape

Nour Eid, Head of Strategy & Commercial at the ATI’s Hydrogen Capability Network, discusses the gaps and priority areas for UK aerospace in the hydrogen test infrastructure landscape.

Last month the HCN published Securing Liquid Hydrogen Capability in the UK, in which we recommended the establishment of UK hydrogen test hubs to provide the required testing infrastructure, Liquid Hydrogen (LH2) supply and appropriate health and safety handling requirements to satisfy the UK aerospace sector’s test needs.

Over the next 12 months, we will be starting work to secure the building and commissioning of two hubs – one at the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in Buxton, and another at Airbus’ Zero Emission Development Centre (ZEDC) in Filton. These hubs will play a crucial role in meeting the technical and strategic requirements for UK-based infrastructure identified during the first 12 months of the HCN programme.

In the past year we have collated the demand signal for LH2 testing in the UK. This has been informed by the testing plans from industry and has included the technical and strategic requirements for UK-based infrastructure. As part of this analysis, we looked at the immediate needs for testing at large volumes and with high LH2 flow rates. This led to the conclusion that bespoke hydrogen test hubs are required in the UK to meet this testing demand. Both proposed hydrogen hubs will have an open-access model, allowing research and testing to be undertaken by UK entities who want to test in a representative LH2 environment.

The HCN’s forecasted demand currently shows a quarterly average usage of 11-22 tonnes of LH2 until around 2030. This is the equivalent of approximately 3 tankers delivering LH2 into the UK each month.

Alongside the development of test hubs, we also identified a requirement to develop infrastructure for materials testing and development of standards. More information on our approach to can be found in our previous

The UK is at a turning point when it comes to hydrogen research and the HCN is keen to work with others in the community who are developing their hydrogen infrastructure. Testing at various scales has different requirements, and our objective is to create a network of UK test infrastructure that is complementary to each other and provides the sector with sufficient capacity and appropriate capability to satisfy the test demands.

HCN Network Map

The HCN has recently launched a database to showcase the training courses, research projects and facilities that are present in the UK’s hydrogen in aerospace community. The HCN Network Map is populated with entries from users across the community and is maintained by the HCN team. Through the Network Map, users will be able to browse:

  • Hydrogen facilities and infrastructure projects which are available to access now or are planned to open in the future.
  • Training opportunities focusing on many topics, ranging from hydrogen fundamentals to cryogenic fuel systems and propulsion.
  • Research projects taking place in the UK across academia and industry

We encourage users from across our network to keep the Network Map up-to-date. To submit a new entry to this database, or suggest an edit, please visit the link below. Submissions will be reviewed periodically by the HCN team before being added to the Network Map.

Access the HCN Network Map Here

Submit an entry to the HCN Network Map here

A strategy for the future

Over the next 12 months we will be compiling a strategy that will consider what is required to support hydrogen testing in the UK over the next decade. This will identify the long-term requirements for larger-scale hydrogen testing, certification and demonstration in a representative airport environment. This will also include the UK’s supply of LH2 and exploring price incentive mechanisms with Government.

We aim to keep working with colleagues within the UK aerospace sector, and those working in other sectors to best understand where intervention is required and how the HCN can support.