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08 Jul 2009 04:07:09

Fuel cell aeroplane takes off in Germany

Fuel cell aeroplane takes off in Germany
The world's first piloted aircraft powered solely by hydrogen fuel cells has successfully completed its maiden flight in Germany.

Demonstrating the potential of the low-carbon technology to transform transport, the Antares DLR-H2 took off from Hamburg Airport on July 7th.

It was developed by the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) to fly without producing CO2 emissions - something not possible with crop-based alternative fuels - and is also much quieter than similar-sized motor gliders.

"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 Professor Dr Johann-Dietrich Worner, chairman of the DLR's executive board.

Capable of flying up to 750km over five hours, the DLR-H2 aircraft also has a maximum speed of 170kmph.

The only by-product produced by its motor system - which is capable of producing up to 25KW of electricity - is water, meaning that the glider can fly without any CO2 emissions at all if the hydrogen fuel is produced via clean energy technology.

Josef Kallio, project manager for Antares at the DLR Institute for Technical Thermodynamics, said: "With our successful first flight, we have verified the feasibility of fuel cell-powered flight and our next steps will focus on improving efficiency levels and on extending the service life of these systems."

Over the next three years, the Antares DLR-H2 will be used by DLR as a test bed for its fuel cell experiments at Lufthansa Technik, Hamburg Airport.



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