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Fuel-cell powered airplane propulsion

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The advantages of fuel-cell auxiliary power in airplanes have been obvious. Fuel cells can generate for an airplane its auxiliary electric power more efficiently than can propulsion-engine powered generators, thus reducing the quantity of fuel that must be carried on a trip. Boeing has now organized a team for developing a small airplane that flies at low altitude to demonstrate the advantages of using fuel-cell power for airplane propulsion. Because fuel cells convert fuel directly into electricity and heat, without the combustion in a hydrocarbon-fuel consuming engine, they are emission-free and thus cleaner for the environment. And because they also produce water, this water could be used on-board a commercial airplane, reducing the amount that the plane needs to carry on a long-distance flight.

Published in:

IEEE Aerospace and Electronic Systems Magazine  (Volume:19 ,  Issue: 1 )