Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Boeing's Zero-Emission Plane Set To Take Off

"Boeing plans to launch a hydrogen fuel cell-powered light-aircraft prototype within a year"

The only emissions from such a plane would be water vapor. The plane will be a small craft, and might have a top speed of only 70 miles per hour."

The system is mechanically simple. Fuel cells have no moving parts and run silently. They tend, however, to be bulky and expensive, which is why their use has never become widespread."


"The secret lies in making a fuel cell powerful enough to get an aircraft off the ground and to keep it climbing,” he said. “That takes a huge amount of energy and it is a big obstacle.”

Boeing has overcome this by backing up the fuel cell with batteries that provide extra power for take-off and then recharge while the aircraft is cruising."

"The Boeing project will be the first manned fuel cell- powered aircraft. Last year AeroVironment, a Californianfirm, flew an unmanned surveillance plane, the Global Observer, which was powered by a fuel cell."

"Another big problem is finding a supply of “green” hydrogen. Most commercially produced hydrogen is synthesised in refineries from fossil fuels such as natural gas. Critics call this “black hydrogen” because carbon dioxide is generated as a by-product, cancelling out many of the potential benefits."


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