Hydrogen fuel cell aircraft – what for and when?
With increasing fuel prices and climate change, the aviation industry is having to look at life after fossil fuels but is facing a particularly tough challenge – passenger aircraft needs to be light and very safe, and what about longer distances? We asked aviation insiders where hydrogen fits in.
EKPO receives FC order from Aerostack
EKPO Fuel Cell Technologies has received an order from Aerostack GmbH. Over the next two years, EKPO will provide development services and supply fuel cell stacks optimised for aerospace applications.
Airbus forges ahead with zero-emission aviation
Airbus has just unveiled concrete plans for zero-emission aviation with a new generation of the battery-electric CityAirbus. Meanwhile, the aircraft manufacturer has signed an MoU with Air New Zealand to research hydrogen-fuelled aircraft, while in Europe Airbus will focus on hydrogen aviation infrastructure with Air Liquide and airport operator Vinci by 2030.
IPCEI to fund 12 European hydrogen mobility projects
The German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Technology (BMWI) and the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure (BMVI) have selected 62 major projects to receive government funding as part of a joint European hydrogen project (Hydrogen IPCEI). The BMVI is funding twelve projects in the mobility sector.
Airbus presents ZEROe fuel cell concept
Airbus has unveiled a new configuration as part of its ZEROe programme that could enable passenger aircraft to fly further than ever before with zero emissions. The so-called ‘pod configuration’ consists of six detachable fuel cell propeller propulsion systems mounted under the wings.
Gaussin & Total create electric aircraft-refuelling truck
Gaussin and Total have developed what they say is the world’s first purely electrically powered refuelling truck for aircraft. The prototype comprises two tank trailers, each with a capacity of 30 tons of fuel, and is expected to go into service at the end of this year.
Audi reconsiders flying car project
According to a media report, Audi has discontinued work on the autonomous electric car drone Pop Up Next, which was presented last year together with Airbus and Italdesign, and intends to reevaluate their cooperation with Airbus.
Airbus & partners develop hybrid aircraft EcoPulse
Airbus, Safran and Daher have developed a business aircraft with hybrid-electric propulsion and scheduled the demo model’s maiden flight to take place in three years. This consortium is taking a different path than Ampaire with its hybrid aircraft though.
Japan aims to take off with flying cars
The Japanese government is working on founding an industry consortium to realise electrified flying car technology. A total of 21 companies are said to be involved, including Uber, Airbus and Boeing.
100-seater hybrid aircraft to take-off in 2020
Airbus, Siemens and Rolls Royce announce a hybrid airplane ready to take-off in 2020, thus bringing the dream of electric flying in close proximity. The E-Fan X will fly regional routes first and serve to propel electric aviation.
Boeing, Zunum Aero, Airbus, Purdue University.
Boeing bets on flying cabs: The U.S. planemaker has acquired Aurora Flight Sciences that has last been on the news with its VTOL sponsored by the Pentagon and also for working with Uber Elevate. The firm has been advancing autonomous flying capabilities since 1989. The acquisition has yet to be approved by the U.S. Defense Department as it includes the transfer of Aurora’s novel technologies.
And Boeing backs another high flyer in Zunum Aero, a company working on a small hybrid airplane due by 2022. Using two electric motors and an engine, Zunum says its commuter aircraft can carry up to 12 passengers at speeds of 550 kph on trips of under 1,600 km. Once battery technology advances by the end of the decade though, Zunum Aero wants to offer planes for up to 50 people flying ever further.
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Across the pond, Airbus has been busy to move into electric airspace for some time already and says its all-electric CityAirbus is ready to start real world tests before the end of 2018. Testing the electric propulsion system has been concluded successfully and so soon, the 4-person plane may zigzag the sky at 120 kph and can also start and land vertically.
Smarter converters: Researchers from Purdue University researchers have come up with a smaller, more efficient drive system for hybrid and electric vehicles. They designed an improved power inverter that can be used to convert direct current electricity into alternating current to power a motor.
Skeleton Technologies, SK Innovation, Airbus, Asahi Kasei.
Ultracap cells made in Germany: Skeleton Technologies has opened a large factory in Saxonia, close to Dresden, where the firm plans to make 4m ultracapacitor cells a year. Skeleton’s supercaps base on graphene and provide over 1m charge/discharge cycles according to the company. For the facility, 6.2m euro investment was made by the young firm, supplemented by federal and state funds from a programme to improve the regional economic structure (GRW).
Battery business shut down: Korean SK Innovation has halted the lines at its battery facility in Beijing due to China’s protective measures. The policies that exclude batteries from subsidies if they use nickel-manganese-cobalt (NCM) or parts from non-Chinese makers like most Korean producers do, has led to a rapid decline in orders. SK Innovation is now looking to “build a joint venture to produce battery cells with Chinese partner companies,” a SK official said.
Crushed dreams: Airbus has faltered at the challenge to fly all-electrically and says it will switch its small E-Fan electric plane to hybrid propulsion instead. The new development project is titled E-Fan X and promises more range – obviously – but way less fancy. Initially, the plane maker wanted to build 100 small electric aircrafts for training purposes and had already sent the E-Fan across the English channel.
aero.de (in German), lefigaro.fr (in French)
Demand has increased for separators used in Li-ion batteries made by Asahi Kasei in Japan. The chemical company said it will grow production capacity by 30 percent with an investment of 11m yen until 2019. Asahi Kasei claims rising sales of electric and hybrid vehicles to be responsible for its growth.