Project Term:
04/14/2021 - 04/13/2023

Critical Need:

ARPA-E seeks to mitigate the growing environmental burden associated with commercial air travel at minimum economic cost. The REEACH objective is to develop a disruptive energy storage and power generation (ESPG) system to convert the chemical energy contained in energy-dense carbon neutral liquid fuels (CNLFs) into electric power for aircraft propulsion via electric powertrains and other key systems. Ultra-high conversion efficiency and high specific power and energy are critical for technical feasibility and commercial success of the ESPG system due to CNLFs’ generally either lower specific energies or higher projected cost compared to incumbent fossil-based jet fuels.

Project Innovation + Advantages:

FLyCLEEN will leverage the robustness and efficiency of metal-supported solid oxide fuel cells that are integrated with the combustion chamber of a gas turbine engine-generator. The result would be a hybrid system operating on a carbon neutral synfuel with a performance that leverages the power density and energy efficiency advantages of each component. Multiple advancement methods will be pursued to increase the power density of the fuel cell. The system is configured to optimize the balance of plant and thermodynamic synergies for electrified commercial aviation. Any wasted heat from the reformer or fuel cell is re-captured as pre-heat to the genset system (equipment that converts heat capacity into mechanical energy and then into electrical energy). This yields an overall energy storage and power generation system with superior performance parameters such as 58.0 % cruise efficiency, 3.73 kWh/kg specific energy, and specific peak power of 1.4 kW/kg. The key deliverables for this Phase 1 project are a concept design of a 5-kWe prototype system, and the demonstration of a lab-scale system (≥500W) comprised of a pressurized MS-SOFC stack with 1kW/kg specific power installed on a synfuel combustor.

Potential Impact:

Electrified aviation propulsion systems have the potential to achieve ultra-high fuel-to-propulsive power conversion efficiencies compared with existing turbofan and turboprop systems.


This program could ensure U.S. technology leadership in ultra-high efficiency aircraft propulsion systems capable of exploiting CNLFs.


A high specific power electrified propulsion system framework could enable net-zero carbon aviation by facilitating the transition to carbon neutral liquid fuels (CNLFs) while meeting all mission requirements.


The developed ESPG sub-system could provide the foundational technology for a new industry in ultra-high efficiency propulsion systems while improving the competitiveness of the existing air transportation industry by reducing fuel costs.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. David Tew
Project Contact:
Dr. John Hong
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:


Precision Combustion, Inc.
West Virginia University Research Corporation

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