A hydrogen plane on its first flight with a pilot on board

A hydrogen plane on its first flight with a pilot on board

Liquid hydrogen has shown promising results in several unmanned models. Now a German company has finally succeeded in sending a pilot into the air with a plane powered entirely by liquid hydrogen.

Stuttgart-based H2FLY is the first company to send a manned electric aircraft powered by liquid hydrogen into the air. According to a press release.

Liquid form rather than gas

The experimental aircraft, named HY4, is equipped with an advanced propulsion system powered by hydrogen-electric fuel cells and cryogenically stored liquid hydrogen.

In total, the HY4 completed four test flights, one of which lasted more than three hours.

Previous hydrogen-powered test aircraft often relied on gaseous hydrogen, but the H2FLY replaced gaseous hydrogen with liquid hydrogen.

Cryogenic storage of liquid hydrogen means that the hydrogen is cooled to -253°C, so that it becomes a liquid.

A tank filled with liquid hydrogen weighs much less than a compressed gas container, making it possible to fly longer and with more weight on board.

Using liquid hydrogen, H2FLY technology doubled the aircraft’s efficiency, and the maximum range increased from 750 to 1,500 kilometers.

“Together with our partners, we have demonstrated that liquid hydrogen can be used for emissions-free medium- and long-haul flights,” says Professor Joseph Callow, one of the founders of H2FLY, in the press release.

“We are now looking to expand our technology to regional aircraft and other applications, as we begin the important work of decarbonizing commercial aviation.”

H2FLY already has other hydrogen projects in the pipeline, and with the development of the H2F-175 fuel cell system, they will be able to reach cruising altitudes of up to 8,200 metres, which is closer to the 12,000 meters that regular passenger aircraft reach today.

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Dalila Awolowo

Dalila Awolowo

"Explorer. Unapologetic entrepreneur. Alcohol fanatic. Certified writer. Wannabe tv evangelist. Twitter fanatic. Student. Web scholar. Travel buff."

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