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Boeing's Hydrogen-Powered Airplane Completes Test Flights

BoeingBoeing's European outpost has achieved a technical feat that, while not expected to revolutionize air travel, at least shows progress in the effort to lower the overall reliance on very pricey (and, you know, scarce) jet fuel.

Boeing Research & Technology Europe, which operates out of Madrid, has been working on the "Fuel Cell Demonstrator Airplane" since 2001. The goal has been to "demonstrate for the first time that a manned airplane can maintain a straight level flight with fuel cells as the only power source."

What does this mean on a practical level for regular folks like us? Not a whole heck of a lot, with most applications likely being for extending the fly time of unmanned aircraft -- although the technology could be applied to regular jets to help power the electrical systems.

Of course, like many scientific endeavors, the ultimate practical use may not yet be realized by the engineers involved. (Wasn't the active ingredient in Viagra originally intended to help people with hypertension? Researchers, of course, quickly realized an interesting side effect there. The same could always happen with fuel cells, no?)

Boeing sent a the piloted, fuel cell-powered aircraft into the air three times during February and March. The two-seat Diamond Aircraft Dimona motor-glider, with a 16.3m (53.5ft) wingspan, was modified with a proton exchange membrane fuel cell, lithium-ion battery hybrid system. Launched from Ocaña air field, near Madrid, Spain, the plane flew straight and level at 3,300 feet on fuel cell power alone for 20 minutes at 60 miles per hour.

From The Register.


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Tags: airplane, Boeing, breaking+news, engineer, fly, fuel cell, FuelCell, green, hydrogen, hydrogen fuel cell, HydrogenFuelCell, prototype, test, top

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