Boeing unveils new hydrogen powered aircraft

Boeing unveils new hydrogen powered aircraft

September 19, 2012 0 By Stephen Vagus

Boeing works to bring hydrogen to the aerospace industry

Acclaimed aerospace and defense corporation Boeing has revealed a new prototype plane that may help pave the way for hydrogen powered flight. Boeing, like others in the aerospace industry, has been working to make new aircraft more environmentally friendly. Air travel accounts for a massive amount of carbon emissions, a problem that many of the world’s governments have been working to mitigate over the past several years. Facing more stringent emissions regulations, Boeing, and others, have been developing new aircraft that make use of alternative energy.

Boeing reveals prototype 737

Boeing has unveiled its prototype 737-800 ecoDemonstrator, which is equipped with a variety of technologies that are meant to make the aircraft more fuel efficient and environmentally friendly. Boeing has been testing the prototype for the past 45 days, examining how these technologies work together and making improvements where necessary. One of the 737’s most innovative features is its regenerative fuel cell, which can produce and store its own hydrogen fuel.

Regenerative fuel cell used to provide auxiliary power

The regenerative fuel cell uses surplus electricity that is generated by the plane when it is climbing to an appropriate altitude or cruising. This surplus energy is then used by the fuel cell to break down ionized water into oxygen and hydrogen. The hydrogen is stored or otherwise sued to provide power for the plane’s auxiliary systems, while the oxygen is used to regulate cabin climates and facilitate stability in the plane’s fuel tanks.

Fuel cells may soon become a popular tool for the aerospace industry

Further tests with the aircraft will help Boeing understand the best use for the fuel cell and the other technologies it has chosen for the plane. The company is paying particular attention to cost, as an expensive product would likely not be well received by an industry that is already facing significant financial difficulties. Fuel cells have become notorious for their expensive manufacture, but with fossil-fuel prices on the rise, and government regulations demanding cleaner aircraft, fuel cells may be one of the few options left for the aerospace industry.

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