Hot on the heels of the fuel cell-powered motor glider HY4, which was awarded a test flight permit in late 2020 (see cover story in H2-international, February 2021), another venture was given the green light at the beginning of this year. As part of the follow-up BALIS project, whose approval arrived in just six weeks, the four-seater HY4 aircraft is set to become a 40-seater. On Jan. 21, Steffen Bilger, parliamentary state secretary at the German transportation ministry, handed over EUR 26 million in funding to Josef Kallo from the German aerospace center DLR.
Airbus wants fuel cell planes by 2035 – HY4 receives flight permit
Discussions regarding hydrogen as an optional, exceedingly lightweight aviation fuel are not at all new. One major drawback in switching from kerosene to another energy carrier is the corresponding, complete infrastructure overhaul. Due cause for hesitation. Regardless, some companies are seriously pushing to put hydrogen back on the agenda. Notably, last September, Toulouse-based Airbus announced the intention to bring to market a fuel cell-powered aircraft “by 2035.” Many other businesses have also presented plans to launch zero-emission aviation.
In August 2020, MTU entered into partnership with the German Aerospace Center – DLR, which has been conducting research into hydrogen technology for many years. The partners intend to develop and validate a fuel cell powertrain’s functionality for a Dornier 228 airplane with an electric MTU propeller engine providing over 500 kilowatts of power.
Although the aviation industry was the starting point for hydrogen developments, commercial applications in that industry have been few and far between. 1783 marked the launch of the first hydrogen-filled hot-air balloon; later, hydrogen-powered airships crossed the Atlantic. But since the Hindenburg disaster in Lakehurst in 1937, the most lightweight element of all has fallen out of favor in every field except for the space industry.
Professor Josef Kallo has been working for years on realizing his dream: the use of zero-emission fuel cell aircraft in passenger transport. On Sept. 29, 2016, he came a huge step closer to his vision, when the first flight of a four-seat, propeller-driven and hydrogen-run airplane was completed successfully. During the World of Energy Solutions, Kallo talked about the flight, the technology used and presented “his” HY4 to all interested attendees.
A unique aircraft with a distinctive design and innovative engine technology – that is how one could sum up the features of the Hy4, which the German Aerospace Center (DLR) had already showcased at the World of Energy Solutions on Oct. 12, 2015. The new concept study was presented by project head Professor Josef Kallo, who had already been responsible for developing its predecessor.
When the World of Energy Solutions took place in Stuttgart from Oct. 12 to 14, 2015, the emission scandal surrounding Volkswagen was still a fresh memory. The #dieselgate was the topic of many conversations and even an issue in a lot of the presentations held at the trade show. During his opening speech, Franz Untersteller, Baden-Wurttemberg‘s Minister of the Environment, Climate Protection and the Energy Sector, was confident