Anglo-American hydrogen aviation start-up ZeroAvia has secured $116m of investment which it says will allow the company to scale-up its hydrogen fuel cell-powered powertrains for use in larger aircraft, ZeroAvia said today (Monday).

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Around a third of the cash ($40m) will be supplied by the UK Infrastructure Bank (UKIB), which is wholly owned by the British government.

The investment was announced as ZeroAvia concluded its third round of equity funding (Series C), in which the company also netted investors such as aircraft maker Airbus, commercial bank Barclays and the Neom Investment Fund (an arm of the Saudi Arabian government-backed urban development of the same name).

Barclays, Neom and Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy also were confirmed as investors in September, alongside Amazon, Alaska Airlines, Hong Kong fund Horizons Ventures, San Francisco-based Ecosystem Integrity Fund, Europe’s Summa Equity and hydrogen-focused fund AP Ventures.

“This backing by such a preeminent investor as the UK Infrastructure Bank will help us deliver the first commercial zero-emission flights, and help the UK realise substantial export potential,” said Val Miftakhov, ZeroAvia’s founder and chief executive.

The British-American company said today that it also intended to use the cash to accelerate certification of its first H2 powertrain.

ZeroAvia plans to bring one of its 19-seater aeroplanes — powered by its 600kW fuel cell system — into commercial operation by 2025.

But earlier this year, the company released a study indicating that its 2.4MW fuel cell powertrain could carry up to 60 passengers 560 nautical miles (901km) — a distance that would cover 80% of the world’s flights.

The results could also apply to slightly bigger planes, including one with 90 seats, ZeroAvia said.

“Aviation and hydrogen are sectors that need significant private investment to get to net zero,” said Ian Brown, head of banking and investments at the UKIB.

“By providing confidence to investors, our equity has helped to crowd in the private investment needed for the continued development of this cutting-edge technology and should help stimulate the development and deployment of hydrogen technology across other hard to decarbonise sectors.”

ZeroAvia is one of several start-ups aiming to commercialise hydrogen-powered aviation, alongside California-based Universal Hydrogen and Germany’s H2Fly.

European aircraft manufacturer Airbus, airline EasyJet and engine maker Rolls Royce are also working on large-scale H2 aviation and created their own lobby group in September to push the technology.