Zero-emission planes are finally in our midst with the aircraft HY4, a plane that only emits water vapor in the environment. The aircraft has already flown her maiden flight successfully too.
A team of researchers from the German Aerospace Center’s Institute of Engineering Thermodynamics put their heads together with their research and industry partners: fuel cell specialists Hydrogenics and aircraft manufacturer Pipistrel. And they were able to create a huge leap towards decarbonizing the future of aviation travel.
Sustainable Air Travel
The HY4, unlike the airplanes we have today, uses a hybrid fuel cell and battery system to run. The fuel cells that create electric current charge through the mix of hydrogen and oxygen are aided with battery supplies for the additional oomph needed for takeoff.
Last September, the four-seater aircraft made its maiden flight from Stuttgart Airport in Germany. Then it is next scheduled for flights touring Europe and a San Francisco-New York trip.
According to DLR’s Institute of Engineering Thermodynamics director Andre Thess, the aircraft HY4 is the first to “carry more than one person” that is “driven by hydrogen.” And there will be more as DLR reveals they are working on creating 19-seater aircraft in a few years.
Future of Air Taxi
Meanwhile, air taxis that would be used to fly from city to city are also being envisioned by the researchers with the medium-sized passenger planes powered with fuel cells. This would make hour-long car travels to be reduced to more than a half-hour trip especially when traffic jams will no longer be a problem.
HY4 project leader at DLR and University of Ulm professor Josef Kallo is really eager to the idea of the feasible zero-emission planes. He adds many of these planes can possibly fly around with “a controlled airspace.”
The carbon-emitting planes, buses and trains have contributed to the world’s total global greenhouse gas emissions. With the further developments of the zero-emission planes, a sustainable and carbon-free air travel is coming within reach one step at a time.