Hydrogen Fueled Planes with Zero Emissions

The dream to fly like the birds is not new. Every one of us dream if we could take on the skies and explore the life of a sky dweller. And this urge to fly finally paid off when a duo of brothers took the skies with their very own aeroplane.

From then on, we keep on improving our technology to realize our dreams, which drives us to improve technology even further. This is a never-ending cycle. Now we have planes that can carry up to 500 people, we have planes that travel at supersonic speeds and we have space shuttles to take us to the moon.

But all these results in some shockingly adverse effects on mother nature. One team claims that hydrogen fuel may hold the key to solving nature’s problem. Let’s see how.

Planes and Mother Nature

Credits: Airbus

Aeroplanes use fossil fuels as its primary source of power. The engines inside the planes burn up fuel, which provides the thrust for achieving flight. The major problem that this system causes is emissions.

Carbon emissions are a very dangerous threat to mother nature. It disrupts the environmental construct and results in a build of harmful chemicals in the atmosphere. This is ultimately what leads to Global Warming. Global estimates say that, as of 2019, planes contribute to two percent of all global carbon emissions. 

“Euro for euro, hour for hour, flying is the quickest and cheapest way to warm the planet.”- Andrew Murphy, Aviation Manager at Transport & Environment.

Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide levels are increasing at an alarming rate. Last year, it even hit global records!

Global Emission rate contribution by sectors.
Credits: Climate Central
Global Emission rate contribution by sectors. Credits: Climate Central

Air travel emits a staggering amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Research suggests that air travel emissions will grow from 500% to up to 700% in the coming years. 

This a serious issue and it needs to be addressed and soon. 

Behold The Hydrogen Fueled Planes

The ZeroAvia Hydrogen powered test flight.
Credits: ZeroAvia
The ZeroAvia Hydrogen powered test flight. Credits: ZeroAvia

Apart from incorporating electric motors and engines into planes, one solution might lie in using cleaner fuel sources. ZeroAvia is an aeroplane manufacturing company from California, suggests that hydrogen might hold the key to sustainable air travel. They recently showcased one of their planes which uses hydrogen fuel cells as a proof of concept.

CNBC reported this on September 28.

The plane is a Piper M- class aircraft that can carry up to 6 people at a time. Although it is small, it could be the start of a new era of flight tech. The plane took flight and flew around Britain’s Cranfield Airport a few times and then landed safely. 

“While some experimental aircraft have flown using hydrogen fuel cells as a power source, the size of this commercially available aircraft shows that paying passengers could be boarding a truly zero-emission flight very soon.”- Val Miftakhov, CEO of ZeroAvia

This is a very promising step towards cleaner air travel. 

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The team at ZeroAvia retrofits the aircraft with a device that combines both hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity. This is what a basic hydrogen fuel cell does. Since there is no carbon-based fuel involved, the design is free of emissions. No greenhouse gases are produced and therefore, environmentally friendly. 

Towards a Cleaner Future

Although hydrogen-powered planes are not an industry first, this is the first time we test it on a commercially available plane. This technology could be the first step towards a cleaner future. As of now, reports suggest an increase in the number of people wanting to fly.

This will increase the number of planes. Zero Emission planes like the one above could be capable of reducing global emissions to a great extension. For now, let’s all cooperate into building a cleaner and habitable future for the generations to come.

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