The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) is developing a four-passenger aircraft powered solely by a hydrogen fuel cell battery system. DLR presented the HY4 project at the International Trade Fair World of Energy Solutions this week in Stuttgart.
HY4 uses a hybrid system: the main power source is a low-temperature Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cell, which continuously supplies the electric motor with durable and reliable power. A high-performance lithium battery covers peak power loads during take-off and when climbing.
The HY4’s electric motor has an output of 80 kW and allows for a maximum speed of approximately 200 km/h (124 mph) and a cruising speed of 145 kmh/h (90 mph). Depending on velocity, altitude and load, a range of between 750 and 1500 kilometers (466 to 932 miles) is possible.
The first flight of the HY4 is planned for the summer of 2016 at Stuttgart Airport. The development of the drive system is based on DLR’s extensive aviation and energy research activities in the areas of batteries, fuel cells and hydrogen technology.
Regional transport as an entry scenario. The DLR researchers see application possibilities in European regional traffic. Electric drives are well suited for shorter distances due to their low noise and emission levels, as well as their capability to take off and land on short runways thanks to their high torque. With more than 60 regional and international airports, Germany has a well-developed, extensively distributed network and already possesses the appropriate infrastructure for the implementation of this approach.
Our goal is to use aircraft such as the HY4 as an Electric Air Taxi to connect destinations more flexibly and offer faster alternatives to existing routes and means of transport.—Josef Kallo
Under the auspices of the DLR Institute of Engineering Thermodynamics, which is responsible for the overall integration of the power train, the following partners have joined forces to achieve the world's first fuel cell passenger aircraft: the fuel cell manufacturer Hydrogenics; the aircraft manufacturer Pipistrel; the University of Ulm as a scientific partner; and Stuttgart Airport as the home airport for the HY4. The DLR spin-off H2FLY will operate the HY4 and will be responsible for the certification process.