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.”