New Record: Hydrogen Fuel Cell Plane Flies 23 Hours With Zero Emissions


Photo via Ecofriend
Hydrogen Fuel Cell Plane Sets Record in Zero Emissions Flight
The Ion Tiger, an unmanned, hydrogen fuel cell-powered plane developed by the Naval Research Laboratory, just set an unofficial flight record--it flew for 23 hours and 17 minutes on a test run. And it did it all with zero emissions. Staying in the air for nearly an entire day, the Tiger set the new record for flight endurance for a fuel-cell powered flight.

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And that fuel cell the Ion Tiger carries on board is not only super efficient, but the electric fuel cell propulsion system is super quiet as well--another benefit of ditching the internal combustion engine. It's relatively lightweight--the entire plane weighs only 37 pounds.


Zero Emissions, Major Efficiency
According to Science Daily:
The 550-Watt (0.75 horsepower) fuel cell onboard the Ion Tiger has about 4 times the efficiency of a comparable internal combustion engine and the system provides 7 times the energy in the equivalent weight of batteries.
So what does the new record mean, other than heralding the increasing efficiency gains being made in fuel cell technology? It means it looks like the Navy's got itself a new toy. From SD:
Small Unmanned Air Vehicles are growing in importance for naval missions, as they provide capabilities ranging from surveillance collection to communication links. Electric UAVs have the additional feature of being nearly undetectable from the ground. Due to the high energy in the fuel cell system onboard the Ion Tiger, it is now possible to do long endurance missions with an electric UAV, thus allowing a larger cruise range and reducing the number of daily launches and landings.
Here's a video of the Tiger before the record setting flight:

Don't worry, I'm sure the military will only use its super efficient, undetectable, long-range, zero emissions unmanned aircraft for good. Perhaps to fly food rations in undercover to starving people living under oppressive regimes, right?

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