DLR to successfully use a fuel cell involved in flight operations


The latest aviation forecast to rise steadily – hence the fuel consumption and the resulting pollution. Solutions to reduce pollutant emissions in air and ground operations are therefore urgently needed. These could be the fuel cell will make a substantial contribution: The new research aircraft ATRA of the German Aerospace Center (DLR), an Airbus A320, has successfully its first test flight with a fuel cell system, which is tentatively on the provision of emergency power supply was used.

Together with the Airbus project partners, the Institute for Technical Thermodynamics of the DLR aircraft with a fuel cell system equipped by Michelin. The fuel cell built for one hour over the emergency power supply – free of carbon dioxide and other pollutants. As part of the emergency care system that operates the pump of the hydraulic system, which in case of failure of the engines.

Fuel cell system of DLR ATRA
Fuel cell system of DLR ATRA

Side effect: fuel cell generates water in flight

Since the fuel cells for electricity production only uses hydrogen and oxygen, are no harmful exhaust. Instead, in addition to the finished product in the current electro-chemical process in the cell also water and heat, both may be on board an airplane well still be used. In the current test produced the fuel used ten liters of water. If the resulting water in the hydrological future of the aircraft, fed, it reduces the amount of water to be carried on simultaneously and thus weight and fuel consumption. In addition, the fuel cell has a high efficiency and low noise.

The emergency supply of the fuel cell also has the advantage that the aerodynamic properties of an airplane gliding not be affected and the performance regardless of aircraft speed and altitude remains constant. Both are disadvantages of today’s emergency systems where a so-called Ram Air Turbine (back pressure turbine) on the fuselage of the plane and extended through the Anstromung the necessary energy supplies.

Economic aspects but also make use of the fuel cell medium already interesting: Such a system is, for example, less maintenance-intensive and costly. In the first phase of the project were separate tanks for hydrogen and oxygen incorporated. The next step is to oxygen from ambient air are used, making the oxygen tank is dispensable. In the future, could also aboard the hydrogen from hydrocarbons available there (for example, kerosene) are produced.

 Pure elegance the DLR research aircraft ATRA
Pure elegance DLR ATRA

Fuel cells use goes into the DLR aerospace research

To the 20-kilowatt fuel cell in the cargo compartment that you can install, the DLR research aircraft initially equipped with a deck cargo loading. Then had the fuel system on the plane and its consumers are connected. Difficult tasks were here next to the construction of mobile infrastructure for supplies of fuel (hydrogen and oxygen) and the development and implementation of the approved measuring air with which the behavior of the fuel cell system during the flight observed and analyzed. Before the plane with fuel aboard for the first test flight could take off, the system had extensive tests on the ground in order for the operations necessary to ensure safety.

Because the hydraulic system to be controlled with an engine failure, the control surfaces must move, has been a focus of the tests carried out the drive of the ailerons, for which the six kilowatt fuel cell power must provide. Further tests related to the behavior of the fuel cells under normal flight conditions, that is appropriate for vibration, acceleration, different air pressures and temperatures. Also addressing the different electrical loads on the program.

DLR-Forschungsflugzeug A320 ATRA (Advanced Technologies Research Aircraft)
(Advanced Technologies Research Aircraft)

The work is part of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology funded project, with partners from industry and research since March last year, the use of fuel cells in aircraft to investigate. The positive test result marked an important milestone in the project and in the further research: It has been confirmed that the fuel cell is a promising option for on-board power supply on the plane represents.
Concerning the operation of the emergency generator is therefore beyond the integration of a multi-fuel cell system as the next step in the project plan. This is generated by the fuel cell-derived water on board continue to be, the system also provides electrical energy to supply the aircraft on the ground ready.

Posted under Fuel Cells

This post was written by admin on October 15, 2008


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