Hydrogen-powered planes: promising test results

Recent successful test flights with hydrogen-powered planes are showing promise. The tests with retrofitted turboprops have demonstrated the potential of hydrogen fuel cell propeller planes.

One of the hydrogen-powered planes, tested by Universal Hydrogen, is a 40-passenger Dash 8. EVWind reports that the aircraft incorporates an original jet fuel engine, a 1.2 megawatt fuel cell, and an 800-kilowatt electric motor. The Dash 8 has successfully completed nine flights, reaching heights of up to 10,000 feet and speeds of over 170 knots (195 mph).

Image by ZeroAvia

Another series of tests of ZeroAvia’s modified 19-seat Dornier 228, was equally successful. The prototype has performed 10 successful flights at 5,000 feet, traveling at speeds of 150 knots without any issues, on a twin-engine turboprop that utilizes both hydrogen fuel cells and batteries in addition to standard fuel systems.

Hydrogen-powered flights will likely be limited to shorter distances in the near future, the report states. But the use of hydrogen can make a significant impact on reducing airline emissions. According to a report from the International Council on Clean Transportation, even a retrofitted fuel-cell plane can generate one-third less CO2 over its lifetime compared to ‘e-kerosene’ made from water, carbon dioxide, and electricity.