In the BALIS project, the German Aerospace Center (DLR) is developing a fuel cell powertrain for aircraft with an output of around 1.5 MW. This would make it possible to build a regional aircraft with 40 to 60 seats and a range of 1,000 kilometres.
According to DLR, this is the first project in the world to aim for a fuel cell powertrain for aircraft with an output in the megawatt range. Against this background, a test stand is being set up at the DLR Institute of Technical Thermodynamics in Stuttgart that integrates the fuel cell system itself, the hydrogen tanks, the electric motor and the control and regulation technology into a complete system. “This test environment is complex and at the same time very flexible. It enables research and development work under the most diverse framework conditions, requirements and guidelines that apply in the aerospace sector,” DLR informs in a press release.
“With BALIS, we are creating the foundation for energy conversion technology by developing an initial demonstration system in the 1.5 megawatt power class and working out the optimal mode of operation. Next, we want to transfer the technology into practical applications together with partners from research and industry,” explains Professor André Thess, Director of the DLR Institute of Technical Thermodynamics. The initial focus is on use in aviation. “However, such fuel cell systems can also be used in heavy-duty transport, for example in large commercial road vehicles, in trains or on ships,” Thess emphasises.
The German Federal Ministry of Transport is supporting the project with 26 million euros. The Institute of Technical Thermodynamics received a funding decision for the same amount from Parliamentary State Secretary Steffen Bilger on Thursday. “In this decade, it is a matter of shifting gears and transitioning our transport to carbon-dioxide-free or low-carbon fuels. Mobility with hydrogen from renewable energy sources will play an essential part in this. Hydrogen can be used as a fuel for all modes of transport, including aircraft. The goal is emission-free air transport, preferably whilst also creating jobs and added value in Germany,” Bilger commented on the handover of the funding notification.