Fuel cells to power intercity aircraft

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A recently launched project, funded by the EU, is aiming to design the first manned inter city aircraft to be powered by fuel cells. The result of the work should produce planes with lower noise and lower emissions.

The Environmentally Friendly Inter City Aircraft powered by Fuel Cells (ENFICA-FC) project, being lead by the Polytechnic of Turin, is receiving €2.9million as part of the EU’s aeronautics and space priority. Initially, fuel cell technology will be used for the propulsion system. However, the technologies will be developed to replace on board electrical systems to produce larger ‘more electric’ or ‘all electric’ aircraft. “No other project funded by the EC promises such ambitious results,” says project coordinator Professor Romeo Giulio. “Hydrogen and fuel cell power technologies have now reached the point where they can be exploited to initiate a new era of propulsion systems for light aircraft and small commuter aircraft,” he added. The fuel cell system will be installed in selected aircraft, which will be flight and performance tested as a proof of concept for future applicability in other inter city aircraft.