DLR
Earth & Energy

Come Fly the Cleaner Skies: A Hydrogen Powered Plane Just Took to the Skies

A look into the future of emission-free aviation.

Jelor GallegoOctober 1st 2016

The green revolution is focused on finding alternatives for the fossil fuels we have come to rely on for so long. Not many appreciate just how big a task this is, since these energy sources are used in electricity generation, manufacturing, and all major transport systems.

That’s why engineers are scrambling to build emission-free vehicles of all types. One in particular was tested just this week. The hydrogen-powered HY4 conducted its first test flight over Stuttgart Airport in Germany.

The plane’s developers have created a small four seater aircraft run completely by hydrogen fuel. That’s possible through the four low temperature Proton Exchange Membrane fuel cell modules that sit behind the prop of the aircraft.

These cells convert the hydrogen fuel and oxygen into water and electricity, which powers the plane. This is the system used while the plane is in flight, while 21 kWh lithium polymer battery packs are used during take-off and climb.

In its test flight, HY4 was flown for 10-15 minutes above the airport. The key now is finding a method of creating clean hydrogen fuel.

In a statement, André Thess, Head of the DLR Institute of Engineering Thermodynamics explains, “One of the major challenges for the coming decades, however, is… making the air transport system of the future carbon dioxide neutral.”

And its not just aviation that is being shaken up by hydrogen cells; even cars that run off this source are being developed.

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