At Madrid, Spain on 3rd April 2008, Boeing announced that it had, for the first time in aviation history, flown a manned airplane powered by hydrogen fuel cells. The aircraft used was a modified Dimona motor-glider built by Diamond Aircraft Industries of Austria.
Yes , my first thought was this seemed a bit pointless , as hydrogen /electric power is not new . It seemed a bit like a publicity gimmic . However on reading the article it seems like they are genuinly trying the advance the technology involved . Admittidly its very early days , but whose to say where the spinoffs might be of benifit . ( maybe not comercal , but perhaps private avaition - in the distant future )
Dear Warner Brothers: Now that I'm an adult, I feel I'm old enough to hear what the "Beep Beep" is hiding when Road Runner talks to Wile E. Coyote.
I actually think this is a lot bigger than people are giving credit for.
Fuel cells may or may not be the future but I'd suggest you can almost bet your bottom dollar that electricity is. How the aircraft derives enough power to spin an electric motor is something that needs to be finalised, but the good thing with electricity is that we already have sources of it that are completely renewable and give a positive EROEI (energy return on energy invested). All that is needed is a way to store electrical energy or electrical potential energy in a medium that is light enough to become part of an aircraft and we're there. What this article doesn't talk about is how quiet the aircraft would have been, not having to turn an engine at 2400rpm. Think about that from a noise pollution perspective too.
The thing is, domestic vehicle use contributes to roughly 50% of New Zealand's oil consumption. By the same token, look at the CAA register. What fraction of it would you say is taken up by Jet and Turboprop aircraft? I don't know the answer, but I'd say 'not a heck of a lot'. So if we were to take away the oil consumption of the current piston-powered aircraft in NZ and replace them with this, it wouldn't matter that the remaining gas turbine aircraft were burning oil. A view that is becoming a bigger reality these days is that we are never going to 'run out of oil'. It's just going to get more and more expensive. If it came time to prioritise who gets it and who doesn't, it's likely they'd say "Transport yes; GA no" so anything that has the potential to keep GA flying has to be seen as a HUGELY positive step.
Just my two cents.
I've been watching this thing for a long time and am stoked to see it eventuate.
Some really good thoughts there Greaneyr. Apparently jet fuel only makes up 6% of oil consumption worldwide. Offsetting aviation oils by utilising alternative means of energy in land and sea based transport may help to negate our contribution to pollution and green house gases.
I know there's a lot of money in aviation because I put it there.
Apparently jet fuel only makes up 6% of oil consumption worldwide.
If that's true then it only strengthens the argument. I think a lot of people get hung up over fuel consumption of jets under the comparison of "My 1600cc hatchback uses a fraction of what that jet uses". True, but there are two factors to consider. 1) The average fuel consumption per passenger per mile is a lot more balanced when you compare the two; and 2) There are a heck of a lot more people just like them driving 1600cc hatchbacks around than there are 747-400s in the sky. Again, if we could replace domestic transportation with renewable sources then we'd have no need to worry about oil in the medium term.
Reading this, I've been wondering about the possibility of supplimenting this with solar power? Currently I would imagine that actually placing panels on the wings wouldnt be feasible (too heavy, too expensive) but perhaps, eventually, it could be a possibility to use them to extend the range of an hydrogen/electrically powered a/c....
Of course, most GA aircraft are parked up for a large proportion of their lives so having an a/c powered by electricity does open up the possibility of installing solar panels on the roof of the hangar and 'plugging it in' to top up the 'tanks'.