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Hydrogen Fuel Cells Go Flying

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Old May 29th 18, 06:39 PM posted to rec.aviation.piloting
Larry Dighera
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Default Hydrogen Fuel Cells Go Flying


Hydrogen Fuel Cells Go Flying

By Paul Bertorelli | May 25, 2018

While drone makers and would-be electric aircraft manufacturers are
waiting for better batteries, hydrogen fuel cells are rapidly becoming
a reality. In this news feature shot at the AUVSI Xponential in
Denver, AVweb took a look at some of these technologies.


The Players: Intelligent Energy: http://www.intelligent-energy.com/

Airbus wins German Aviation Innovation Award featuring Intelligent
Energy Fuel Cell Stacks: The team of developers at Airbus Systems
Engineering have stated that running a motor on electric power from
fuel cells is more efficient than a kerosene-based drive. The novel
turbine has an efficiency of roughly 50 per cent compared to 20 per
cent or so achieved with the conventional APU.

Ballard/Protonex: https://protonex.com/
Proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells operate at relatively low
temperatures (80ºC or 175ºF), offer quick start-up times, and
require only hydrogen and oxygen to operate. Protonex’ patented design
and manufacturing processes for PEM systems provide significant
technical and cost advantages compared to competing solutions. he core
of a fuel cell system is the fuel cell stack. A Protonex fuel cell
stack consists of two primary components: 1) the bipolar plate
(cathode and anode), and 2) the membrane electrode assembly (MEA). A
single cell of the fuel cell stack is created by stacking a cathode
bipolar plate on top of a MEA on top of an anode bipolar plate as
shown in Figure 1; this stack up is repeated as necessary to adjust
the electrical output characteristics of the fuel cell. The MEA
consists of two porous, catalyst-coated electrodes (cathode and anode)
that are layered upon either side of an electrolytic membrane. The
bipolar plates are electrically conductive and facilitate the supply
of oxygen (cathode) and hydrogen (anode) to the MEA via integral flow

As shown in Figure 1, on the anode side of the cell, platinum catalyst
within the MEA’s electrode layer separates the hydrogen’s negatively
charged electrons from positively charged ions (protons). The protons
move through the membrane to toward the cathode. The electrons from
the anode side cannot pass through the membrane and as a result are
forced around the membrane through an external electrical load before
returning to the cathode side of the cell; the resultant flow of
electrons is a useful electrical current. At the cathode side of the
cell, the catalyst within the MEA’s electrode layer facilitates the
re-combination of the protons and electrons along with supplied oxygen
to produce water and heat.

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