Hydrogen holds promise for zero-emissions aviation, by way of both fuel-cell electrical motors or jet engines that burn H2 instantly. Now, Common Hydrogen has introduced that it accomplished a 15-minute take a look at flight in a 40-seat Sprint-8 commuter aircraft utilizing a fuel-cell hydrogen engine. The corporate known as the flight “historic” and stated it’s “dedicated to being North America’s first zero-emission airline.”
With a gas cell from Plug Energy and electrical motor constructed by magniX, the ability plant is the biggest ever to take to the sky. Nonetheless, it was solely put in on the left facet of the plane, whereas a regular Pratt & Whitney turboprop engine was fitted to the suitable wing for “security of flight,” the corporate stated. It equipped the engines with emissions-free “inexperienced” hydrogen (made by way of electrolysis from renewable energy sources), related by way of its personal modules that preserve the extremely unstable gasoline in liquid type for as much as 100 hours.
The Sprint-8 was extremely modified to accommodate the engine, 30kg (66 kilos) of liquid hydrogen and two racks of electronics and sensors. Whereas the turbine engine was primarily used for takeoff, pilots had been in a position to cruise totally on hydrogen energy in the course of the second circuit. The flight attained a peak of three,500 toes.
Although it had some yaw because of the imbalance in energy, “the airplane dealt with superbly, and the noise and vibrations from the gas cell powertrain are considerably decrease than from the standard turbine engine,” stated chief pilot (and former US Air Drive take a look at pilot) Alex Kroll. The corporate acquired FAA approval for the flight simply weeks in the past.
The British/American agency ZeroAvia flew with the same configuration on its twin-engine, 19-seat Dornier 228 aircraft earlier this yr. Airbus not too long ago introduced that it is constructing a gas cell that might energy a 100-seat plane round 1,150 miles, and Rolls-Royce not too long ago accomplished assessments of a jet engine transformed to run instantly on hydrogen gas.
Potential issues nonetheless abound, although. Hydrogen has a couple of quarter the power density of normal jet A gas, so it is solely good for brief hops. And as I’ve detailed in an explainer, there’s little or no hydrogen gas infrastructure, it is tough to work with and very explosive. Nonetheless, Common Hydrogen is assured it may beat the chances. “Our enterprise mannequin resolves the chicken-and-egg downside between hydrogen airplanes and hydrogen infrastructure by growing each in parallel and with a uniquely low-cost strategy,” stated CEO and co-founder Paul Eremenko. All merchandise really helpful by Engadget are chosen by our editorial workforce, impartial of our father or mother firm. A few of our tales embrace affiliate hyperlinks. In the event you purchase one thing via one in every of these hyperlinks, we might earn an affiliate fee. All costs are appropriate on the time of publishing.