First Hydrogen Fuel Cell-Powered Plane Takes to the Skies

Antares DLR-H2

The world’s first plane powered solely by hydrogen fuel cells took off on its maiden flight Tuesday from Hamburg Airport in Germany. The Antares DLR-H2’s 10-minute flight showed off the plane’s 105-mph-speed capabilities and quiet electric glide motor. Eventually, the German Aerospace Center-sponsored Antares will be able to hit 300 mph.

Boeing experimented with a fuel cell-powered plane flight last year, but the flight was boosted by a battery-electric motor. The Antares flight was powered purely by fuel cells. The 25 KW fuel cell system on board provides more than enough electrical power for the Antares, which requires only 10 KW of power to cruise. And the total efficiency of the system is approximately 44%–twice the efficiency of a conventional internal combustion system.

Commercial aircraft won’t likely be powered by hydrogen fuel cells in the near future since energy-efficient sources of hydrogen aren’t yet available, but the cells could act as auxiliary power. Check out the Antares in action below.