Antares DLR-H2 of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) became, on 7 July 2009, the world's first piloted aircraft to take off on power from fuel cells. The propulsion system of this aircraft was developed at the DLR Institute for Technical Thermodynamics in partnership with Lange Aviation, BASF Fuel Cells, and Serenergy (Denmark).
"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 Prof. Dr-Ing Johann-Dietrich Warner, DLR's Chairman of the Executive Board. "This enables us to demonstrate the true potential of this technology, also and perhaps specifically for applications in the aerospace sector."
July 7th, 2009
The Antares flies without CO2 emissions at higher-efficiency and much lower noise. It has a wingspan of 20 meters because it is based on the Antares 20E motor glider built by Lange Aviation of Germany. A maximum cruising range of 750 kilometers is reached in five hours. The allowable maximum speed is 170 kilometers per hour.
Its fuel cell and hydrogen tank are located under the left and right wings, respectively. This system uses hydrogen as fuel to produce electricity and water in an electrochemical reaction with oxygen of the ambient air.
Antares DLR-H2 can produce up to 25 kilowatts but requires only 10 kilowatts of power while flying in a straight line -- at 52 percent efficiency.
The efficiency of the drive system, from tank to powertrain, including the propeller, is 44 percent or about twice that of conventional propulsion using internal combustion engine.
Source material: dlr.de