World's first as fuel cell aircraft takes off in Germany

Jul 07, 2009
The Antares DLR-H2 flies its madden voyage over the northern German city of Hamburg. The airplane powered by fuel cells was commissioned by the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) with the goal of developing fuel cells for a reliable on-board power supply for wide-body airliners.

The world's first piloted aircraft capable of taking to the air using only power from fuel cells took off in Germany Tuesday, producing zero carbon dioxide emissions, its makers said.

"We have improved the performance capabilities and efficiency of the fuel cell to such an extent that a piloted is now able to take off using it," said Johann-Dietrich Woerner from the German Aerospace Center (DLR).

"This enables us to demonstrate the true potential of this technology, also and perhaps specifically for applications in the aerospace sector," he said.

Developed by the DLR, Lange Aviation, BASF Fuel Cells and Denmark's Serenergy, the Antares DLR-H2 motor glider has a range of 750 kilometres (465 miles) and can fly for five hours.

The system uses hydrogen as its fuel, and this is converted into electrical in a direct, electrochemical reaction with oxygen in the ambient air, without any combustion occurring.

The only by-product is water, and if the is produced using renewable energy sources, then the motor glider is genuinely CO2-free, the DLR said.

"Although the fuel cell may still be a long way from becoming the primary energy source for the propulsion of commercial aircraft, it does already constitute an interesting and important alternative to existing energy systems as a form of reliable on-board power supply," the DLR said.

(c) 2009 AFP

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User comments : 16

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vivcollins
4 / 5 (1) Jul 07, 2009
And so it begins
Shootist
4 / 5 (8) Jul 07, 2009
I love fuel cells.

Too bad H2 is so impractically difficult to store and transport.

Too bad H2 takes more energy to create, either from ammonia (petroleum based) or water, than can ever be realized.

Too bad there are no hydrogen mines. The US alone will 100 additional 1000MW power plants to electrolyze sufficient fuel for a hydrogen economy.

Move along, its just another pig in a poke.
finitesolutions
4 / 5 (1) Jul 07, 2009
Go for it germans. If hydrogen is good enough for the space shuttle it will be good enough for high speed planes.
nkalanaga
4.3 / 5 (4) Jul 07, 2009
There are hydrogen mines - Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. Getting to them and getting the hydrogen into orbit and back here would be very expensive, but there's nothing physical to prevent it.
Shootist
4.5 / 5 (4) Jul 07, 2009
There are hydrogen mines - Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. Getting to them and getting the hydrogen into orbit and back here would be very expensive, but there's nothing physical to prevent it.


It is truly raining donuts in space. But we wouldn't need the outer planet's H2 here on earth. Give me low cost to orbit and I'll give you all the "free" electricity you'll ever need. Solar Power Sats in geo-sync orbit.
glidehouse
5 / 5 (2) Jul 08, 2009
Bravo to the Germans. I like the hydrogen from urine story on this site too, 3.7V for electrolysis, that should just about make on demand systems practical for super efficient engines like the Massive Yet Tiny Engine we're supposed to see next year in the U.S., no?
fixer
2.5 / 5 (2) Jul 08, 2009
Why not just ionise water?
A self solving problem.
iknow
2.7 / 5 (3) Jul 08, 2009
there are plenty of ways of making H without wasting oodles of electricity in the process..... storage is the biggest problem. tho there have been some strides made in making efficient storage possible with some dry chemicals (forget which ones)

Also with new tech for making H without using Pt in the process is gonna make it much much cheaper.

Forget EV's .. H is the way forward. Also much easier to fill up with H than charge a battery.
Kedas
5 / 5 (3) Jul 08, 2009
Burning H2 never creates CO2.
Why is this so important they can just create an engine that works on H2 and skip the electricity step with the same results.

I can see the benefits for batteries though, but this?
nkalanaga
4 / 5 (1) Jul 08, 2009
Shootist: You're right, and I'd love to see powersats built.
TKS
not rated yet Jul 09, 2009
Sea natural powers like winds and streams can be used to produce electricity itself producing H and O by sea water hydrolisis. If you add a new type of propeller specially made for fuel cell embedded energy system, you have a part of TAR KOVACS SYSTEMS's innovation program, from submarine works to aerials transportation. Aircrafts using this technology will be able to execute earth turn very soon. As usual, few minds prefer skepticism than exploration.
TKS
1 / 5 (1) Jul 09, 2009
Sea natural forces(winds, streams) can be used to produce electricity, itself producing H and O by sea water hydrolysis, gases used as embedded energy power on submarine work sites, ships and aircrafts.If you add a new type of propeller, specially made for these configurations, you get a part of TAR KOVACS SYSTEMS's program and innovations.
Scepticals, as usual, will try but never stop technical evolutions.
Shootist
not rated yet Jul 09, 2009
Sea natural powers like winds and streams can be used to produce electricity itself producing H and O by sea water hydrolisis. If you add a new type of propeller specially made for fuel cell embedded energy system, you have a part of TAR KOVACS SYSTEMS's innovation program, from submarine works to aerials transportation. Aircrafts using this technology will be able to execute earth turn very soon. As usual, few minds prefer skepticism than exploration.


One nice thing about fuel cells is they have no moving parts.

What's all this about a "propeller"?
Shootist
not rated yet Jul 09, 2009
there are plenty of ways of making H without wasting oodles of electricity in the process..... storage is the biggest problem. tho there have been some strides made in making efficient storage possible with some dry chemicals (forget which ones)

Also with new tech for making H without using Pt in the process is gonna make it much much cheaper.

Forget EV's .. H is the way forward. Also much easier to fill up with H than charge a battery.


Every method of H2 manufacture involves either copious quantities of electricity or petroleum. Given enough power generating capacity H2 can be made cheaply - but it is no panacea.

Huge amounts of H2 can be made using Aluminum; then you just need to spend your copious amounts of electricity on refining the Aluminum.

"TANSTAAFL - There aint no such thing as a Free Lunch" - Robert A. Heinlein.
nkalanaga
not rated yet Jul 09, 2009
The propeller is to move the airplane. With an electric drive, it's hard to build a jet engine, and at low speeds, the propeller is more efficient. The fuel cell may not have moving parts, but the plane has to. The "new type of propeller" is probably designed to be more efficient at low airspeeds than conventional ones.
canuckit
not rated yet Jul 13, 2009
On june 10, 2009 SkySpark plane took off for the first time from the Turin Aeritalia airport, reaching a top speed of 250 km/h, a record for a 100% electrically powered aircraft. The Pioneer Alpi 300 model is powered by a 75-kW electric motor using brushless technology and lithium polymer batteries.

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