NASA awards researchers $6 million to develop fuel cell aircraft

NASA has awarded a team from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign $6 million to support research into an electric aircraft.

The team will research the use of liquid hydrogen in fuel cells to power an aircraft propulsion system. They also intend to develop a design concept integrating superconducting electrical components into an aircraft that is similar in size and function to a modern single-aisle, twin-engine airliner.

Phillip Ansell, Assistant Professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at Urbana-Champaign and Principal Investigator of the team, said, “The hydrogen chemical energy is converted to electrical energy through a series of fuel cells, which drive the ultra-efficient electric propulsion system The low temperature requirements of the hydrogen system also provide opportunities to use superconducting, or lossless, energy transmission and high-power motor systems.”

He added, “It’s similar to how MRIs work. However, these necessary electrical drivetrain systems do not yet exist, and the methods for integrating electrically driven propulsion technologies into an aircraft platform have not yet been effectively established. This program seeks to address this gap and make foundational contributions in technologies that will enable fully electric aircraft of the future.”

Source: NASA via Green Car Congress

  • Dumitru Bojiuc

    The needed drive train already is in prototyping progress in some “non-academic garages” maybe that could put the finger on the pain; it’s just a matter of who will pay the right price for that honestly.

  • SJC

    provide opportunities to use superconducting..
    This is a good idea, make it more efficient.

  • K A CHEAH

    DISRUPTIONS’ IN ELECTRIC ENERGY REVOLUTION & INNOVATION ARE APPLICABLE IN ALL MOBILITY INDUSTRIES ON LAND, SEA, AIR & SPACE, AND WITH THE MOST COMPELLING PRESENT ADVANCEMENTS IN THE PRESENT & FUTURE MORE OF THE MOST EFFICIENT SOLAR PV, TIDAL, WAVE, MINI HYDRO AND WIND ENERGY & POWER PRODUCTION GENERATION, AND ALSO WHEN THE SOLID STATE GRAPHENE SILICON LITHIUM METAL BATTERY TECHNOLOGY’S DENSITY EXCEEDING 1.3 KWH/KG BECOMES VIABLE & AVAILABLE, THEIR PROPONENTS, WITH BOTH COMBINED TECHNOLOGIES SHOULD BE ENABLED IN MAKING MASS PRODUCTION OF THE LONGER RANGE ELECTRIC JET VTOL AIRCRAFT AND TAXIS WITH LIGHTWEIGHT HIGH STRENGTH & HIGH TENSILE NANO-CARBON FIBER OR WITH GRAPHENE COMPONENT’S COMPOSITE MATERIALS AS WELL AS MAKING THE MOST ECOGREEN INTER-CITIES AUTONOMOUS VTOL ELECTRIC JET PROPULSION AIR-TRAVEL SERVICES MORE FEASIBLE & POSSIBLE RIGHTLY, POSITIVELY & SURELY WITH ANOTHER SAFETY REDUNDANCY BY ADDING AN AUTOMATIC PARACHUTE OPENING SYSTEM DEVICE & SELF-TRIGGERED IMPACT AIRBAGS IF ALL ELSE FAILED WITH THE SYSTEM FAILURE BEING DETECTED TO ENSURE THAT ITS OCCUPANTS WILL BE 100% SAFE AND SECURED OK??? THESE FUELCELL TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCEMENTS COULD ALSO BE APPLICABLE BY ENHANCING ELECTRICAL BATTERY PROPULSION IN ALL SEA & WATERWAYS’ BOATS, HOVERCRAFTS AND SHIPS AND ALSO BY USING MOST EFFICIENT SOLAR PV PANELS & AN ARRAY OF HIGH STRENGTH PERMANENT MAGNETS GENERATORS’ & FUELCELLS’ RE-CHARGERS & COMPLETE WITH THE SAID MOST HIGHLY EFFICIENT SOLAR PV TO FUEL & FUELLESSLY RECHARGING THOSE HIGH DENSITY BATTERIES ON THE GO POSITIVELY, RIGHTLY AND SIMPLY MARVELOUSLY OK???