First Commercial Aircraft Powered by Fuel Cells
Airbus and the German Aerospace Center (DLR) presented the first commercial aircraft powered by fuel cells at the ILA Berlin Air Show 2008. The latest addition to the DLR research fleet is an Airbus A320 which has been converted for trials of a fuel cell system. The fuel cells cannot replace the plane's jet engines for powering the heavy plane through the air. Instead, the goal is to take the first step towards meeting ambitious targets to reduce aircraft environmental impact (fuel use, CO2 emissions and noise) by 50% by 2020: the fuel cells replace the auxiliary power units which meet the plane's power demands when the plane is on the ground. The system being trialled is serving as an alternative to the RAM air turbine, which uses an extendable mini-propeller to supply power in the event of an in flight engine failure. Biofuels Focus
Ross Walker, Engineering Program Manager for Airbus, stated at the ILA2008 that 25% of the fuel used by jet aircraft will be from alternative sources. In separate news, the formation of the Algal Biomass Organization (ABO) was announced. ABO steering committee chair, probably not by coincidence, is the managing director for environmental strategy at Boeing. Airbus is looking at algal biomass and other "second generation" biofuels, but current tests focus on more promising immediate solutions. According to Walker, these include CTL (coal to liquid) as well as gas to liquid (GTL) kerosene replacements.
PAMELA, Process for Advanced Management of End-of-Life Aircraft
Airbus offered a briefing on PAMELA, the partner program to alternative fuel studies in Airbus' full life-cycle impact minimization efforts. The first aircraft recycling plant utilizing the PAMELA principles will come on-line in October of 2008 in France. Using the PAMELA process, Airbus intends to recover 85% of the materials used in aircraft, and to reduce by two thirds the residual waste from end-of-life airplanes.
Boeing Shows One-seater Hydrogen Fuel Cell Plane
The Boeing hydrogen fuel cell plane featured in TreeHugger in March was on display for visitors at ILA. This Boeing one seater plane made aviation history early in 2008 as the first manned flight powered by fuel cell.