The energy revolution that has been taking place in the auto industry is quickly expanding into the realm of flight as the Lockheed Corporation, a major aircraft manufacturer in the U.S., unveils plans for a new hydrogen-powered commercial jet. The aircraft, called the Lockheed Stratoliner, may be the most advanced vessel to every take to the skies. The concept of using hydrogen to power flight is not new, but Lockheed is taking an aggressive approach on the matter by developing new technologies that will make the jet unique.
The Stratoliner’s design is akin to something from a science-fiction novel. Its oversized wings bear four Cryogenic Hydrogen Turbofan engines which are used to propel the craft through the air. The engines are new developments from Lockheed engineers who have designed the jet to be completely environmentally friendly. While the design and engines are certainly enough to catch anyone’s attention, Lockheed says that the most impressive feature of the jet is the fact that it will be able to travel around the globe on one tank of hydrogen fuel.
This bold claim is made possible by the craft’s ability to reach excessively high altitudes. This allows the jet to operate at a low-power state, which improves its fuel efficiency significantly. Traveling at higher altitudes also means that the jet can travel faster allowing it to reach destinations more quickly using less fuel overall.
The jet is not expected to be completed for another decade, by which time Lockheed expects hydrogen to be common.