Hydrogen must play a crucial role in humanity’s future. It is the universe’s most abundant element and boasts one of the best specific energy’s known to mankind. The UK government has set a target to be carbon neutral by 2050, my company Airbus, currently contributes to global carbon dioxide emissions, finding a zero-emissions fuel is imperative for a sustainable world. This passion led me to HYPER, where I hoped to be inspired and gain deep technical insights to contribute towards this sustainable future of aviation.

The day before arriving in Pullman, Washington, USA, I was apprehensive. I was moving 5305 miles to a town I had never heard off. It was one of the first times where I was truly traveling by myself to what was the unknown. I was nervous, but excited to be a part of something incredible and ahead of the industry.

After landing in Seattle, I started the drive across the state. By no means was this a short drive, in fact it was one of the longest drives I have ever done (having come from a relatively small island in comparison). The drive takes you through the Cascade mountains, across Columbia river then into the Palouse

Upon entering the lab, what struck me immediately was its collaborative spirit. Unlike many university labs focused on individual work, HYPER thrived on teamwork, members sharing their knowledge and experiences with one another. Dr Leachman has created a great working atmosphere where collaboration and community are at the forefront. The students are all very professional and are certainly already engineers in their own right.

I was selected to come to Pullman to design and implement the Cool Fuel School workshops designed to delve into cryogenics and liquid hydrogen testing. Reading that back now, it still sounds easy, however I can certainly say that this was one of the most challenging opportunities I’ve had to date. Each day presented a steep learning curve. Luckily, I was surrounded by brilliant engineers in a vibrant community. This spirit also gave me the opportunity to share my knowledge of Airbus and university experiences to the group, contributing to the synergy of the HYPER community. This included Airbus’ safety processes which were used and adapted to design the HYPER-Flow for the Cool Fuel School Syllabus. The HYPER-Flow is the finished product of what the participants build throughout the workshops, it is a device that will allow the participants to flow liquid hydrogen through whilst collecting pressure and temperature data.

It should not be underestimated the shear technical brilliance and innovation that takes place in HYPER, from mobile hydrogen generation, refuelling, Cryogenic Valves, two phase flow, Taconis oscillations (thermal acoustic oscillations) and so much more. I have tried to absorb as much as humanly possible during my time here at HYPER. I am truly grateful to Dr. Jacob Leachman and to all HYPERians for being so welcoming and supportive. Often, without them, the design and implementation of the workshops would not have been a success. I’d also like to say a massive thank you to Yulia, Matt and Kyle who often saved my skin with spare parts and fittings that they let me borrow for numerous workshops where shipping and lead times set me back.

Lessons learned… Too many places to start, there have been so many (I certainly kept a list though). Enjoyment… Truly every minute (apart from leak checking). I am gutted to be leaving but am hopeful for a zero emissions future and I feel more confident than ever that hydrogen aircraft will be the future of aviation, a confidence instilled by HYPER’s mindset, determination, and processes.

For anyone who doesn’t know much about the Palouse area, there are a few things I’d like to talk about. The Palouse is a region of beautiful rolling hills in the northwest region of the United States that cover north central Idaho, southeastern Washington, and parts of northeast Oregon. For someone who likes spending time outside in nature, the opportunities are full and thick, the Palouse area and Washington have a great range of diverse areas to explore, and I was in awe, when I return to Bristol, I am going to have real envy on what this great place has to offer.

As an Englishman, I regularly play football (the proper football). Pullman has been brilliant for this; I was able to join and be a part of the intramural tournaments getting to the semi-finals in the Co-ed and the Finals in the open tournament. The gym, football, student recreational centre and the many ski mountains nearby have definitely kept me sane as at times I did miss home. However, I was certainty distracted from this by new friends, the kind that I will stay in contact with for life. I have been here a relatively short time, but because of the incredible people I have met it feels like a lot longer.

Pullman and the surrounding settlements offer a great range of ‘Pubs’ and bars (especially The Coug). I have really enjoyed spending time with the people from the Lab learning more about them and the American culture outside of the working environment… Which brings me to swing dancing. Every Wednesday a group of great people have taken me with them to swing dancing in Moscow. Initially, I was truly awful. I am now at a place where I’m not making a complete fool of myself. It has been a great way to let off steam and meet new people.

Recommendations, take on the adventure and journey, travel to Pullman, experience on what the place and the lab has to offer, you will not regret it – I didn’t. Working here has been an absolute pleasure and I will whole heartedly miss it.

Overall, the experience has been incredible. I have been honoured to learn from the best, be a part of a wonderful community and have completely been won over by the people and the area. My own technical knowledge has developed vastly. My aim was to throw myself into the deep end of cryogenics and hopefully stay afloat. I have found that not only did I float but managed a steady breaststroke. Incredible memories have been made in which I will carry with me to Britian – And you never know, hopefully one day I will soon return.

Archie West stands in front of the HYPER-Flow project for the Cool Fuel School.