HAMBURG, Germany (AFP) " The world's first piloted aircraft capable of taking to the air using only power from fuel cells took off in Germany Tuesday, producing zero carbon dioxide emissions, its makers said.
"We have improved the performance capabilities and efficiency of the fuel cell to such an extent that a piloted aircraft is now able to take off using it," said Johann-Dietrich Woerner from the German Aerospace Center (DLR).
"This enables us to demonstrate the true potential of this technology, also and perhaps specifically for applications in the aerospace sector," he said.
Developed by the DLR, Lange Aviation, BASF Fuel Cells and Denmark's Serenergy, the Antares DLR-H2 motor glider has a range of 750 kilometres (465 miles) and can fly for five hours.
The system uses hydrogen as its fuel, and this is converted into electrical energy in a direct, electrochemical reaction with oxygen in the ambient air, without any combustion occurring.
The only by-product is water, and if the hydrogen fuel is produced using renewable energy sources, then the motor glider is genuinely CO2-free, the DLR said.
"Although the fuel cell may still be a long way from becoming the primary energy source for the propulsion of commercial aircraft, it does already constitute an interesting and important alternative to existing energy systems as a form of reliable on-board power supply," the DLR said.
Copyright © 2009 AFP
Cooperation with German Aerospace Center (DLR) on fuel cells
After first flight: Services for ANTARES DLR-H2
Lufthansa Technik AG and the German Aerospace Center (DLR) are planning to intensify their cooperation in the testing of fuel cells for aviation purposes. As the next step of this collaboration, the DLR will station its experimental fuel cell aircraft ANTARES DLR-H2 on Lufthansa Technik’s base in Hamburg.
On July 7, ANTARES DLR-H2, the worldwide first pilot-controlled aircraft capable of taking off, flying and landing solely on fuel cell power, has successfully conducted its public maiden flight on the airport in Hamburg. In the future it will take to the air regularly from here, powered by its revolutionary, emission-free propulsion system.
Instead of using a combustion engine or a turbine, the propeller mounted atop ANTARES DLR-H2 is driven by electricity. The necessary electrical power is produced by 25 Kilowatt fuel cell installed in one of the two wing-pods of the modified motor glider. Utilizing a controlled chemical reaction of hydrogen and oxygen ANTARES DLR-H2’s advanced fuel cell generates enough power for every phase of flight, including take-off and landing. The sole emission produced by this propulsion concept is conventional water vapour.
Besides the accommodation of ANTARES DLR-H2 on its base, Lufthansa Technik will also support the DLR in terms of material supply and further assists in the installation and removal of components. For the fuelling of ANTARES DLR-H2 a mobile hydrogen filling station will be provided and moreover, the widespread apron of Lufthansa Technik’s base can be used by the DLR for taxi trials.
“We are very happy that during the upcoming tests with ANTARES DLR-H2 we can fully rely on the support of Lufthansa Technik”, said Dr. Josef Kallo, Head of the project in the DLR Institute of Technical Thermodynamics in Stuttgart. “The know-how of Lufthansa Technik as the leading provider for aircraft related maintenance, repair and overhaul services is of great value for the operation of our experimental aircraft fleet, especially regarding the use of new technologies like fuel cells.”
“The cooperation with the DLR opens up many new perspectives for us”, said August Wilhelm Henningsen, Chief Executive Officer of Lufthansa Technik. “We are very certain that modern technologies like fuel cells will soon make their way into commercial aircraft, hence we are very happy to gain experience with these technologies already today. In the future this will be of big benefit for our customers.”
Lufthansa Technik is also providing extensive services for the DLR’s second experimental fuel cell aircraft, the Airbus A320 ATRA (Advanced Technology Research Aircraft) that uses a fuel cell to replace functions of the auxiliary power unit (APU). Under the framework of a Total Technical Support TTS® contract, Lufthansa Technik takes care of all aspects of maintenance, repairs and overhauls of the aircraft. Moreover, Lufthansa Technik will also carry out technical modifications on the ATRA.
Aerodynamically the cleanest of the Dornier flying-boats, the all-metal Dornier Do 26 was developed for transatlantic mail services, designed to carry a crew of four and 500kg of mail between Lisbon and New York, The mid-span stabilising floats retracted completely into the wings, and the rear pair of the two tandem pairs of Junkers Jumo 205 diesel engines could be given an upward tilt of 10° on take-off so that the three-bladed metal propellers were clear of the spray from the hull. Three Do 26s, stressed for catapult launching from support ships, were ordered by Deutsche Lufthansa in 1937, and the first of these was flown on 21 May 1938. Two of the three were completed before the outbreak of World War II and delivered to the airline under the designation Do 26A. They were never used as intended, across the North Atlantic, and made just 18 crossings of the South Atlantic.
........Nine days: That's the longest any airplane has stayed in the air. Burt and Dick Rutan's Voyager set the record in 1986 by flying 24,986 miles around the world without refueling.