Plane powered via hydrogen fuel cell

July 3, 2005

AeroVironment, a California-based company, says it has successfully completed a test flight of an aircraft powered by liquid hydrogen.

The company said the liquid hydrogen was stored on board and oxygen was extracted from the air and combined in fuel cells generating electricity that drove the aircraft's eight propellers, the BBC reported.

The aircraft, called Global Observer, looks like a glider, but much of how the aircraft is powered is being kept secret.

"We're carrying liquid hydrogen on board at very low temperatures," Alex Hill, AeroVironment's director of Washington operations, told the BBC. "So the insulation on the tank is crucial."

AeroVironment believes this type of aircraft could be used as telecommunications platforms, replacing or complementing satellites. Hydrogen-powered aircraft are being sought to help reduce greenhouse gases from aviation.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International

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