Alakai Technologies Corporation has unveiled a new urban air mobility (UAM) vehicle. “Skai,” Alakai Technology’s electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) vehicle, marks a departure from current UAM vehicle trends with its power source: hydrogen fuel cells. The Hopkinton, Massachusetts-based company claims it an industry first.
Hydrogen has the highest specific energy density of “practical fuels.” By using three hydrogen fuel cells, the five-passenger Skai can carry up to 1,000 pounds and fly for up to four hours, or approximately 400 miles, in between 10-minute refueling periods. For special purposes, Alakai Technologies says auxiliary fuel tanks could allow for over 10 hours of flight. It uses six 100-kilowatt electric motors and low revolutions per minute (RPM) rotors to achieve speeds upwards of 118 miles per hour.
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While Skai’s hydrogen fuel cell emissions are pure water, Alakai Technologies takes it one step further, touting that – from an end-to-end life-cycle perspective – hydrogen is the cleanest energy solution currently available. The company highlights the edge its design has over traditional battery-stored electric propulsion with the low environmental impact of their fuel cells – 95% of each fuel cell can be reused and 99% of the remainder can be recycled efficiently.
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William Kucinski is content editor at SAE International, Aerospace Products Group in Warrendale, Pa. Previously, he worked as a writer at the NASA Safety Center in Cleveland, Ohio and was responsible for writing the agency’s System Failure Case Studies. His interests include literally anything that has to do with space, past and present military aircraft, and propulsion technology.
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