Long Range Aircraft, an Ideal Case for Fuel Cell Power 2007-01-2957
This paper shows that the analysis of factors such as costs, weights, fuel distribution logistics, etc. indicates that the replacement of internal combustion engines (ICE) by fuel cell/electric motor (FC/EM) systems, can be more attractive to aeronautical than to automotive applications.
For long range airplanes especially, where the fuel represents an important fraction of the vehicle weight, the penalties from that replacement by a heavier system, can be overcome by the fuel weight reductions resulting from the higher fuel cell efficiencies.
The necessity of FC/EM powered airplanes is also discussed in view of the eventual climate effects the air traffic may have, due to the injection of carbon dioxide and water vapor into the high troposphere.
Some of the weight and aerodynamic issues posed by a FC/EM medium sized long range transport airplane preliminary design are discussed, and a non conventional aircraft configuration is proposed to be used in order to partially compensate the increase in the basic operational weight resultant of the FC/EM system adoption.