Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Fuel cells for aircraft engine

The German Aerospace Center (DLR) recently presented the first manned airplane that can take-off and fly exclusively with a fuel cell. The innovative fuel cell, based on a high temperature polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM), generates power for the electric engine of the motor glider Antares DLR-H2. The initial results of the high-temperature PEM fuel cells demonstrated better performance from the DLR testing - even under difficult low pressure conditions.

This technology is based on Celtec® - membrane electrode assemblies by BASF - a technology that integrates into aircraft auxiliary power fuel cells. High temperature PEM fuel cells can operate at 120 to 180°C; need no humidification; require simple cooling system; and offer a broad operating window. It can also tolerate impurities in the hydrogen fuel gas, due to which impure hydrogen is sourced from jet fuel reformation on board the aircraft.

The project evaluates the potential of the technology for future applications in commercial aircraft.

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