This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

April 04, 2007

Boeing to Test an Airplane Powered Solely by a Fuel Cell

Boeing researchers and their industrial partners in Europe are preparing to conduct experimental flight tests of a manned airplane powered only by a fuel cell and lightweight batteries. The Fuel Cell Demonstrator Airplane research project was started at Boeing Research and Technology—Europe in 2003, and recently culminated in a test craft that is now undergoing its final checkout before ground and flight testing begins. The Boeing demonstrator drives its prop with an electric motor, which is powered by the combination of a hydrogen fuel cell and a lithium-ion battery pack. The fuel cell can power the prop while cruising, but the extra power of the battery pack is needed for takeoff and climbing. See the Boeing press release.

Meanwhile, a U.K. company has developed a 1-kilowatt fuel cell for use on boats, particularly on sailing yachts. Voller Energy Group PLC has installed its first unit on a sailboat for sea trials. The fuel cell runs on a variety of fuels commonly found on sailboats and provides plenty of power for the boat's electrical appliances. According to Voller, the device will eliminate a common worry of running down the sailboat's battery. See the Voller press release.