The issue of fuel is one of the most critical when it comes to aviation. But, of course, savings are always on the minds of all engineers, as is the least possible pollution of the environment. So, as one of the solutions, the idea of an engine powered by hydrogen appeared. As a result, we may soon be able to fly in aircraft that run on hydrogen rather than fossil fuels.
With Destinus from Europe to Australia in just 4 hours
A hydrogen-powered engine has numerous advantages but also some significant disadvantages. Destinus, a European company, is working on a hypersonic hydrogen-powered passenger plane that may cut the journey from America to Australia from more than 17 hours to just under 4 hours. The company has announced its participation in a program run by Spain’s Ministry of Science as part of the Spanish government’s efforts to develop hydrogen-powered supersonic aircraft.
Destinus’ ultimate goal is to achieve a hydrogen-powered hypersonic future. Their high-speed, long-range hypersonic planes are powered by hydrogen. The company announced successful test flights of its prototype Eiger at the end of 2022.
Eiger, Destinus’ second prototype, serves as an experimental flying platform for engineering teams to test new technology in flight directly.
The team is currently collecting data from Eiger’s test flights to create its new supersonic flight and hydrogen propulsion prototypes. In 2023, this prototype was ready for testing. The first commercial transcontinental flights of Desitnus’ air freighter, with a payload of one ton, are scheduled for 2025. By 2029, the air freighter will be capable of carrying 100 tons, and hundreds of hyperplanes will be in service.
A hydrogen-powered engine is an alternative propulsion system that generates energy by utilizing hydrogen as fuel. It operates by mixing hydrogen gas and oxygen from the air inside a fuel cell, producing electricity, water, and heat as byproducts.
Benefits of hydrogen engines
One of the primary benefits of a hydrogen-powered engine is that it emits no hazardous emissions. In addition, because water is the only product of the reaction between hydrogen and oxygen, it is a completely clean and environmentally beneficial alternative to typical combustion engines. So, it has the potential to cut air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, making it an appealing option for people trying to reduce their carbon footprint.
Another benefit of hydrogen-powered engines is their high efficiency. While traditional combustion engines only turn a small portion of the energy in fuel into usable work, hydrogen fuel cells convert up to 60% of the energy in hydrogen into electricity.
And what are the drawbacks?
However, hydrogen-powered engines have several drawbacks. One of the significant challenges is that pure hydrogen is not commonly available and requires a lot of energy to generate. In addition, because most hydrogen is currently produced from fossil fuels, the entire carbon footprint of hydrogen-powered engines relies on the hydrogen source. However, efforts are being made to develop more sustainable means of producing hydrogen, including renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power.
Another concern with hydrogen-powered engines is their high cost of manufacture and maintenance. Because the technology is still relatively new, the production process must be optimized for mass production. Furthermore, hydrogen fuel cells necessitate expensive elements such as platinum, which can raise the vehicle’s price.
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