Fuel Cell Flying???

Boeing has announced that it will be conducting tests this year of a manned aircraft powered with a fuel cell and “lightweight” batteries.

“The Boeing Fuel Cell Demonstrator Airplane uses a Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cell/lithium-ion battery hybrid system to power an electric motor, which is coupled to a conventional propeller. The fuel cell provides all power for the cruise phase of flight.

“During takeoff and climb, the flight segment that requires the most power, the system draws on lightweight lithium-ion batteries.”

This project is being run out of Boeing Research and Technology — Europe (BR&TE) which is part of Boeing’s Phantom Works.   

The flights tests, planned for Spain, will be the first demonstration of manned flight using fuel cells. Boeing isn’t suggesting that Dreamliner II’s will be hydrogen powered:

 “While Boeing does not envision that fuel cells will provide primary power for future commercial passenger airplanes, demonstrations like this help pave the way for potentially using this technology in small manned and unmanned air vehicles. It also gives us hands-on experience to complement other fuel-cell studies being carried out throughout the company.”


3 responses to “Fuel Cell Flying???

  1. Wow, it’s about darn time! Boeing (and its predecessors) have thirty years’ experience working with fuel cells on the space shuttle. From take-off to landing the shuttle is powered completely from the fuel cells, and they also provide the astronauts’ drinking water. If they could rig up the same system on a commercial aircraft, the airlines could save a ton on beverage costs 🙂

  2. This is interesting.

    It’s amazing how things progress. I went to a local park where they fly model planes last Friday. Someone was flying an electric helicopter. This thing was in the air for more than 15 minutes doing stunts, etc…

    I remember less than 5 years ago getting even a fixed wing RC electric to fly for just 5 minutes was a big deal.

    Technology evolves. Reminds me of the first time I walked through an arcade for more than a decade… whew!

  3. Exelant!
    Fuel cells are the future!

    Soon we will be able to let go of fossil fuels and hold on to somthing that is cheap, clean and re-usable!

    I’m an aviator and paying for fuel is a nasty experiance! Just watching your money flowing out of your pockets! With electric I can keep my money in my pocket where it belongs.

    Horray for the fuel cell!

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