MIAMI – The venture capital affiliate of JetBlue Airways (B6), JetBlue Technology Ventures (JTV), revealed it was one of the investors in Universal Hydrogen’s Series A funding from which the company collected US$20.5m.

Universal Hydrogen says that the funds will be used to fuel carbon-free flights and accelerate the growth of its hydrogen distribution network. The funds will also fuel regional aircraft conversion kits and expand its flourishing commercial activities.

“Today, hydrogen is the only viable fuel for achieving true zero emissions in commercial aviation…" Paul Eremenko, Universal Hydrogen co-founder and CEO Click To Tweet
Universal Hydrogen’s modular capsules. Photo: Universal Hydrogen

Universal Hydrogen

Universal Hydrogen is constructing a fuel distribution network that will directly link hydrogen production to airplanes through modular capsules. The capsules will be transported using existing freight networks, eliminating the need for new pipelines, storage facilities, and fuel trucks to the company.

The company is also working on conversion kits that will enable existing 40-60 passenger regional planes to be retrofitted with a hydrogen fuel cell powertrain. Commercial flights are expected to begin no later than 2025 with operating costs comparable to those of standard hydrocarbon-burning planes

According to the company, said operating cost will quickly decline soon after 2025.

Comments from Universal Hydrogen’s CEO

Paul Eremenko, John-Paul Clarke, Jason Chua, and Jon Gordon, all veterans of the aviation industry, founded Universal Hydrogen in 2020.

Regarding hydrogen-powered aviation, Universal Hydrogen co-founder and CEO Paul Eremenko said, “We see regional aviation’s near-term decarbonization as a first step and catalyst in putting the entire industry on track to meet the Paris Agreement’s emissions goals…our aim is to reduce the chance of Airbus, Boeing, and COMAC making their next new airplane a hydrogen-powered one in the 2030s.”

JetBlue Technology Ventures investment areas. Image: JetBlue Technology Ventures

JetBlue Technology Ventures

JTV invests in cutting-edge technology that focuses on new methods of measuring and minimizing pollution, enhanced environmental safety, and game-changing transportation. According to B6, the airline became the first U.S. airline to reach carbon neutrality on all domestic flights in 2020, owing to carbon offsets.

“Our investment in Universal Hydrogen is highly aligned with JetBlue’s environmental goals, and this collaboration offers valuable insight into the options, advancement, and feasibility of hydrogen to help decarbonize aircraft operations,” said Jim Lockheed, Investment Principal at JTV.

According to Renewable Energy World, Playground Global led the financing round, with Fortescue Future Industries, Coatue, Global Founders Capital, Plug Power, Airbus Ventures, Toyota AI Ventures, Sojitz Corporation, and Future Shape joining as investors.

Featured image: JetBlue Technology Ventures