First hydrogen fuel cell flight of commuter airplane made in England

Discussion in 'The Powder Keg' started by Cyrano, Sep 25, 2020.

  1. Cyrano

    Cyrano Resident Curmudgeon Forum Contributor

    New York
    For the first time, an aircraft capable of being used commercially has flown. Not much of a flight, just takeoff, once around the pattern, and then landing, but it took off and flew. The company working on the "zero emissions airplane project" has as its goal making a 250 mile flight by the end of the year. If it proves up, it could be perfect for the kind of general aviation commuter/short haul business flying Dick Francis wrote about in Rat Race.
  2. TXplt

    TXplt Gun Toting Boeing Driver Forum Contributor

    There is not, and never will be, any zero emissions anything. The term is a propaganda buzz word.

    Every form of energy has externalities.

    Having said that I’m glad to see stuff like this explored; hydrogen-electric vehicles may show great promise when problems like the lack of shortage energy density of hydrogen and the efficiencies of fuel cells are improved. You’ll always need a prime mover to generate the hydrogen, but nuclear reactors might well be able to help in its generation.
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  3. neophyte

    neophyte Wonderment :) Forum Contributor


    Hydrogen as an Alternative Fuel
    Hydrogen is considered an alternative fuel under the Energy Policy Act of 1992. The interest in hydrogen as an alternative transportation fuel stems from its ability to power fuel cells in zero-emission FCEVs, its potential for domestic production, its fast filling time, and the fuel cell's high efficiency. In fact, a fuel cell coupled with an electric motor is two to three times more efficient than an internal combustion engine running on gasoline. Hydrogen can also serve as fuel for internal combustion engines. However, unlike FCEVs, these produce tailpipe emissions and are less efficient. Learn more about fuel cells.

    The energy in 2.2 pounds (1 kilogram) of hydrogen gas is about the same as the energy in 1 gallon (6.2 pounds, 2.8 kilograms) of gasoline. Because hydrogen has a low volumetric energy density, it is stored onboard a vehicle as a compressed gas to achieve the driving range of conventional vehicles. Most current applications use high-pressure tanks capable of storing hydrogen at either 5,000 or 10,000 pounds per square inch (psi). For example, the FCEVs in production by automotive manufacturers and available at dealerships have 10,000 psi tanks. Retail dispensers, which are mostly co-located at gasoline stations, can fill these tanks in about 5 minutes. Other storage technologies are under development, including bonding hydrogen chemically with a material such as metal hydride or low-temperature sorbent materials. Learn more about hydrogen stora
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  4. TXplt

    TXplt Gun Toting Boeing Driver Forum Contributor

    This is one reason it's so attractive--you can actually refill a hydrogen-fuel cell vehicle in a reasonable time. Perhaps it's been overcome but the energy DENSITY of hydrogen (at least in any tanks that could be reasonably used in a car or airplane) relative to liquid like diesel or gasoline (or even propane) was fairly low (with liquid hydrogen posing its own unique problems like LOX).

    The theoretical conversion potential for a fuel cell (hydrogen in to electric out) is quite promising-- at above 80%-- but this has been yet to be achieved in the real world; at least on something that could be mass produced. Propaganda sites from California put it at around 50-60% (given that they endorse windmills this might be dubious) for commercially available ones.

    The thought that they're much more efficient than high efficiency diesels--at least in practical applications--just isn't true. The better diesels approach 40-50% thermodynamic efficiency; the Atkinson cycle on my insight has a (claimed) efficiency of 40% (again this is Honda making the claim). Now, that could be more of an engineering/R&D problem to solve and if we got fuel cells into the 60s or above that could be mass produced we'd be getting somewhere (don't forget you also have to account for the energy loss in the electric motor/inverter setup which might be 5 or 10 percent--to get overall efficiencies you multiply individual efficiencies. So if you had a fuel cell that was 60 percent efficient and an electrical to motive conversion of the inverter and motor of 90 percent you'd be at 54% overall efficiency--a gain over an Atkinson or diesel for sure but not THAT much of a gain).

    So at present, fuel cells aren't all THAT much more efficient than a standard high efficiency diesel or Atkinson cycle engine. Doesn't mean they can't be though and this is certainly something to explore; especially since fossils days are numbered.


    The key problem always becomes WHERE do you get the hydrogen ? There HAS to be some prime mover. The CO2 scam is oft-used but most of us here have realized that 'environmental' motivations have been the classic perennial scam where going 'green' usually results in MORE (real) pollutants being released into the environment; it just puts them in a blanket somewhere covered up out of sight. In the ultimate folly, Berkely banned natgas from new construction actually making carbon emissions WORSE (not that I buy into the carbon scam at all but even if a person does they really stepped on their schlong) in that the energy has to come from somewhere (gas turbines usually) and now instead of having natgas giving you 90% efficiency in heating at the home at the furnace, water heater, or stove, you're below 40% in converting it to electricity and then back again to heat.

    So anytime I hear "zero emissions" it's always a scam.

    Now, to REPLACE fossils, there's promise in using nuclear to split hydrogen from water and then using this to fuel vehicles. That would have a real benefit. But simply extracting hydrogen from hydrocarbons and then using it in a fuel cell electric vehicle gets you nowhere.

    I'm all for development of fuel cell electric vehicles. But if we're going to do so we need realize we need a primary source for the FUEL -- and if this primary source is fossils we're chasing our tail for no good reason. If, on the other hand, the plan would be to build huge nuclear plants to generate hydrogen (through a catalytic reaction or electrolyzing water) that could work.
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2020
  5. PaleHawkDown

    PaleHawkDown G&G Evangelist

    The Doble E-20 came pretty close to "zero emissions". 1500 mpg on the water and around 15 mpg on the fuel to heat the water. This sucker was developed 97 years ago.

    Thanks to the closed fuel system, which recycled the exhaust to provide additional heat, the only "emission" from the heating source was inside a removable hopper about the size of a fist, full of carbon black - a pigment that is still valued today.

    It wasn't quite "zero-emission" but it was really impressive, even by today's standards.

    If someone could figure out how to re-pump the "exhaust" from a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle into a hydrolysis chamber order to re-split the water molecules into additional hydrogen they would really be onto something.

    I think we had a thread last year or so about alternate fuel sources where I talked about how cool it would be to have a hydrogen fuel cell/steam engine hybrid where the exhaust of one system helped replenish the power of the other system.

    The hydrogen cell would give you the ability to instantly start your car, heat and water from that system would go into the boiler, and once it began heating up the steam would be condensed, split into hydrogen and oxygen electrically, and it would re-feed the hydrogen cell. Your emissions would be nothing but oxygen.
    goat roper, Cyrano and neophyte like this.
  6. TXplt

    TXplt Gun Toting Boeing Driver Forum Contributor

    Lol...yeah...they'd be on to a perpetual motion machine.

    The hydrogen gave off its bonding energy when oxidized in the fuel cell and it'd need an equivalent level of energy to be reduced back to elemental hydrogen.

    Recycling exhaust heat is a good idea; but due to entropy and bounded by the second law of thermodynamics is limited in being able to use that heat to produce kinetic motion. Combined cycle power plants do it to some extent (using the waste heat from the gas turbines to produce steam to drive a steam turbine) as did the Titanic (using waste steam from the piston main engines to drive the center (third) screw via a turbine). But this is bounded by the theoretical Carnot cycle (which hasn't been achieved in practice) -- and is usually a fair bit less.

    (If you don't want to wade through the article it boils down to the difference in absolute temperature between hot and cold sections divided by the absolute temperature of the hot section)

    The big Wrights on the DC-7 and super Connies used power recovery turbines (3) which spun white-hot exhaust turbines through a type of viscous coupling adding power and efficiency to the main crankshaft (adding nearly 450 HP to the engine) but at the expense of decreased reliability.
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2020
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  7. PaleHawkDown

    PaleHawkDown G&G Evangelist

    It just seems like we were, as a species, onto all these brilliant "environmentally safe" ideas 100 years ago and, rather than run with earlier work, all the experts are trying to reinvent the wheel.

    We had a 135mph car in 1922 that weighed as much as a small troop carrier and ran off steam and kerosene. Imagine using modern lightweight heat-resistant metalloids, energy-efficient electric heating coils instead of liquid fuel, and modern design to reduce weight. You could have a water-powered hypercar.

    The British fielded vehicles in WWII that burned logs for green gas.

    We have known how to split hydrogen (technically it was a few years before they knew it was hydrogen) from water since the 1780s.

    A century of technological improvement later and we are technologically as close to viable "clean fuel" technology as we were back then.

    We figured out the gasoline engine in 1876 and by 1909 we had the first gas-powered military airplane, yet, somehow, we have let every other technology languish.

    We've had hydrogen engines since 1807, electric motors since 1834, and steam-powered vehicles since 1769.

    Yet, we're struggling to get a viable airplane using any of those technologies, and the Tesla is the first electric vehicle that is actually taken seriously.
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2020
  8. TXplt

    TXplt Gun Toting Boeing Driver Forum Contributor

    I think that's because primary hydrocarbons remain an excellent source of energy. They DID try a nuclear powered jet engine in the 50's/60's but obviously weight and shielding were a problem.

    But more than that we've become too self-effacing in the last few years. Instead of concentrating on real solutions they've been agenda based and we've been petrified of nuclear energy. Unicorns and windmills which largely have been a bust. "Environmentally friendly" is a load of unadulterated bull...t. Yep...there are REAL pollutants like SO2's, NOx, particulates, metals, etc. But most of these have been cleaned up in the newer engines such that there isn't alot of REAL pollution (the CO2 is and always has been a complete scam; just like Freon and Chlorinated Flourocarbons which really didn't do anything to the 'environment' yet were demonized on a complete lie).

    Even the worst nuclear accidents (excluding Chernobyl which was its own gross buffoonery on so many levels) haven't really caused great harm (including Fukishima -- where there WAS a significant release of Cs-137 which will shut down some land for a bit--and Fukishima itself had human error as a contributing factor when an automatic emergency recirc safety device was shut down over a minor concern shortly before losing all power and being unable to reopen it--had the operators left things alone it's likely the reactors wouldn't have blown).

    And the WuFlu bubble wrap nonsense propagates this; ANY new energy source will have substantial risk just as fire posed a threat to those first harnessing it.

    To move forward, it WILL take nuclear (fission initially, likely followed by fusion) to satisfy energy needs. The Tesla (and the like) really don't do much (other than have fun eye-popping acceleration) in that there always has to be a primary source of energy and windmills ain't gonna do it. When you think about it, why is a lithium battery any better than a fuel tank ? In some ways it's worse in that lithiums can have self-sustaining fires. So the breakthrough that hasn't happened is a storage medium better than fossils with performance to rival them (like 'gassing up' a Tesla in 5 minutes). Hydrogen COULD provide this; as could a (real) fast charge station--but the grid loading for something like this isn't part of the fake news advertising Tesla does but a HUGE demand. One that certainly COULD be met--but then you gotta ask yourself why ? Does that battery give me better performance than some other medium ? Not really. AND there's losses in charging and discharging it; when you look at the overall cycle of how the energy gets there and losses in and out you're really not any better off than (and likely worse off than) fossils.

    Heat engines haven't stayed static in technology at all but are bridled (like everything else) by the second law of Thermodynamics which is simple physics. So there's a finite (physics) driven limit on motive energy which no words on paper or feel-good crap can get around. A Tesla isn't really any more efficient than my Insight--and may well be less so. It's just that the pollution has been moved from tailpipe to power plant. Turbodiesels are wonderfully efficient yet blocked by wacko greens looking at unicorns.

    So our own worst enemy has been the devolutionists; while supposedly 'advocating' the planet they trash it (at least to the extent any human can which isn't much) out of their own want of moral superiority, graft, and corrupt power games. We can't really destroy the planet but we can destroy each other and hurt each others' lives.
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2020
  9. PaleHawkDown

    PaleHawkDown G&G Evangelist

    Back in the Clinton years I knew a punk who had a t-shirt that read;

    "The only way the government can guarantee clean energy is if someone develops an engine that runs off farts and empty promises."

    He got kicked out of class because the word "fart" was on his shirt.

    I was reading a report on Fukishima and this group of elderly people who have volunteered to live and work in the hot zone.

    According to the report, spending a day in the worst part of the hot zone is the equivalent of getting an x-ray. Living there is only slightly worse than being a full-time x-ray technician.

    The report claimed that actually working inside Fukishima - because the plant is still open - is as likely to cause cancer as working in a coal power plant.
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  10. Huey Rider

    Huey Rider G&G Evangelist Forum Contributor

    I recall back in the ‘80’s I knew a guy (boy friend of a girl I knew) who moved here from California for a company he worked for that were selling propane conversions for automobile engines. Cleaner burning so engine lasted indefinitely due to no carbon build up valves burning, etc. Not sure of claims of pollution but exhaust was smelly. Problem was the big azzed tank needed ( he had a pick up with the tank on the bed about the size of a truck bed tool box). Plus the inavailability of propane in convenient locations.
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  11. runfiverun

    runfiverun G&G Evangelist

    that was a factory option on international harvester pickups in the 70's.
    they were set up with a gas tank on one side and a propane tank on the other.
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  12. PaleHawkDown

    PaleHawkDown G&G Evangelist

    This all just reminded me of the cars that ran off of compressed air. There were at least three of these companies. One was in France and did air-compression conversions to mini vans, one was a company that made tiny little cars in Luxembourg, and the third company was making a fossil fuel/air compression hybrid vehicle in India.

    What ever happened to any of those?

    I can't find anything from the conversion company after 2007, the Indian company seems to have vanished around 2014, and the other company has a website with order details, but I can't find where they have made delivery to anyone.

    We had a car company open up in Louisiana that was going to make ultra-fuel efficient in-line two seater cars. They even had an early order/investor program. I invested $75 for some swag, and first dibs to order one back in 2009. Some people paid the full amount for theirs, and there were several levels of reservation/investment in between.

    They still haven't gone into production, and the whole thing is looking like a scam now.
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  13. TXplt

    TXplt Gun Toting Boeing Driver Forum Contributor

    I think the biggest problem is and always will lay in the second law of thermodynamics and that vehicles use ALOT of energy to get from here to there (comparatively speaking).

    Even if you're only using 30-40 HP from your engine in cruise, that's still 25-35 kwh for each hour you drive. Which, compared to a home, is a fair bit of energy. The hybrids can regenerate a portion of this by putting it in the battery when you stop (which has the added benefit of saving wear and tear on the brake pads) but even in something which CAN regenerate you're still losing perhaps 10-15% of that energy going in and out of the battery (and if there was a flywheel, compressed air, you name it there'd still be some losses every time the energy moves back and forth). One of the nice things about the hybrids is that their engines can operate at the most efficient level given the demand (using the battery as a sort of accumulator for excess power) but still you're stuck with raw physics.

    And need alot of energy to start with. It's gotta come from somewhere.
  14. TXplt

    TXplt Gun Toting Boeing Driver Forum Contributor

  15. runfiverun

    runfiverun G&G Evangelist

    the hybrid thing is what bites Formula -1 racers in the butt.
    they try to run efficiently so they can brake just inefficiently enough to put juice back in the battery.
    then when another vehicle starts to gain on them they have the extra juice to make up for aerodynamic or gasoline power deficiencies.