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University of Stuttgart IFB to Compete in NASA Flight Efficiency Competition with Fuel Cell Hydrogenius

The Institute of Aircraft Design (IFB) at Universität Stuttgart is entering NASA’s $1.5 million Green Flight Challenge, scheduled for 2011 in San Francisco (earlier post), with its Hydrogenius fuel-cell aircraft being built there; the aircraft is to be equipped with Li-ion batteries for this competition.

We’re going to America to win. However, we still have two years of hard work ahead of us if we are to enter an aircraft with a real chance of winning.

—Prof. Rudolf Voit-Nitschmann, Member of the Executive Committee of the IFB

The IFB has been experimenting with alternative power sources in aircraft for several years. The Institute began working intensively on the Hydrogenius fuel-cell aircraft in 2007. In 1996, the IFB unveiled its solar aircraft “icaré”, which was theoretically able to stay airborne for an unlimited length of time during daylight hours, powered exclusively by solar cells.

Hydrogenius. Click to enlarge.

The two-seat Hydrogenius is operated by an integrated fuel cell propulsion system consisting of an air/hydrogen fuel cell as well as a 70 kW electric motor as propulsion. The Hydrogenius design calls for a maximum range of more than 700 km (435 miles) with a maximum cruising speed of 205 km/h (127 mph). The aircraft carries 4.36 kg of hydrogen compressed at 350 bar.

The institute is collaborating with Slovenian light aircraft manufacturer Pipistrel, a company that has twice won the CAFE flight competition.

Hydrogenius fuel cell system. Source: IFB. Click to enlarge.

The research into electrically powered aircraft is financed partly by private donors and partly by funding from the Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts Baden-Württemberg.

The Green Flight Challenge is administered for NASA by CAFE (the Comparative Aircraft Flight Efficiency Foundation). The winning aircraft must be able to fly a minimum distance of 320 kilometers (200 miles) at a minimum speed of 160 km/h (100 mph), using the equivalent of less than one liter of fuel per 100 kilometers.


Henry Gibson

Fuel cells have been going into space for fifty years why should they not work in the sky. The problem is that there is no major source of hydrogen that does not involve hydrocarbons. Let's continue to pretend that putting solar cells on the top of the TESLA will allow it to accellerate from 0 to 60 in four seconds. We can also pretend that we are not the ones that buy electricity from coal as cheap as we can get it, and then allow the politicians to require 20 percent renewable (starve world starve) electricity. ..HG..

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