Nearly half of the world's commercial flights end after less than 800 kilometers. In particular, these short- and medium-haul flights have recently come under heavy criticism. Already for reasons of climate protection is diligently discussed alternatives. As a result, rail is to become more attractive as a means of travel . Also completely new technologies like the Hyperloop could offer a solution. The US startup Zeroavia, however, continues to rely on the aircraft – but with a completely new powertrain. The engine will no longer burn kerosene in the future but will be supplied with power by a fuel cell. To prove the viability of this approach, the startup engineers have now upgraded a Piper M-Class accordingly.
In three years, the first hydrogen aircraft will be used commercially
It weighs around two tons and can carry up to six passengers. According to the company, it is already the largest completely emission-free aircraft in the world. For the future, the makers behind the project but still have much bigger plans: From the year 2022 hydrogen aircraft with space for up to twenty passengers and a range of up to 800 kilometers are to be used commercially. Air traffic emissions could be massively reduced as a result. But the airlines should benefit as well. Because the startup currently assumes that the operating costs of the aircraft with fuel cell are only half as high as in the currently used models. So far, this is just a forecast.
The fuel cell allows longer ranges than a battery
These cost advantages should come primarily through three points. For one thing, hydrogen is simply cheaper than kerosene. In addition, the powertrain including fuel cell has a higher efficiency than the classic internal combustion engine. And last but not least, the maintenance should be easier and cheaper. Compared to a purely electric aircraft, the approach of Zeroavia has the advantage that the fuel cell is significantly lighter than the otherwise required battery. Similar to the car can therefore be achieved with hydrogen significantly longer ranges. In Germany, this area has also been researched for some time. For example, the German Aerospace Center (DLR) has developed a hydrogen aircraft called HY4 and has already made it fly .
Via: The Verge