The World's First Zero-Emissions Aircraft



The German-built Antares DLR-H2 is the world's first hydrogen fuel-cell aircraft.  It just made its first test flight.  It has a range of 750 km and can fly up to 170 kph.  Click the link for more pictures and a video (in German).

http://www.popsci.com/military-aviation-amp-space/article/2009-07/antares-dlr-h2-first-plane-run-exclusively-fuel-cell-power

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This plane is only zero emissions if you don't consider the emissions likely required to create the hydrogen it runs on. Most electricity (but not all!) is generated by burning coal or another hydrocarbons.

With that said, this is a cool plane!
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Jeeze... if you want to be technical, nothing is zero emission. Just creating the damn thing would emit something. The person inside emits gas.. And even if we all died our rotting bodies would emit things.

When the vehicle is running. It is zero emission. It's that simple.

Do I like fuel cell technology? Not really.. It's 70% energy efficient from water to hydrogen via electrolysis and then it says this plane is 50% efficient.. which makes the total energy efficiency from source to use to be 35%.

Electricity/Batteries are 97% efficient from source to motor.. but it just can't be refueled as quickly as fuel cell or gas.
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Uhmmm....

Aren't there already a couple of solar powered planes?

Most hydrogen is created from hydrocarbons, is it not? And very energy intensive to compress into a liquid suitable for transport?
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First thing, Carl, Hydrogen is harvested through electrolysis, which IS zero emission.

Second thing, Ermott, it's a lot closer to a zero emission aircraft than whatever car/motorcycle/subdivision(suburban) that you have in your driveway.
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I hate to be negative, this is a really great achievement..But;

This is NOT a zero emissions aircraft. There are plenty of emissions associated with it's manufacture and assembly, with it's transportation to the flight line, with it's maintenance and upkeep. There are emissions (or perhaps radioactive wastes) associated with the generation of the electricity used to create the hydrogen used in it's fuel cell. Hydrogen by the way, when split from water by electricity is NOT the energy source powering the plane. the Hydrogen is like a storage battery and it's the electricity which actually powers the plane. Those compressed air cars are the same sort of thing, except here the compressed air is the storage medium and whatever powers the air pump at the station is the actual power source.

Like the solar powered car that drove up to the Arctic circle with diesel powered support van in tow, like the custom built biodiesel powered round the world yacht partly fueled by it's creators own body fats, this plane is an interesting experiment, but is a hell of a long way from being "Zero Emissions".

Ps: I think that human powered plane a few years back came as close to zero as one can get. The gossamer condor I think it was called.
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