Fuel Cell Airplane
Taking to the sky is a challenging effort for an electric motor; however, combined with the power of hydrogen and the proficiency of fuel cell technology, Mike Strizki along with various partners, including Worcester Polytechnical Institute, NASA, Boeing and the U.S. Army Fuel Cell Test Center, were able to achieve the daunting task. Using a fuel cell engine can improve efficiencies over fossil fuels by as much as three times, with water vapor as the only emissions.
The single prop DynAero Lafayette III airframe used in the project required 25-kilowatts of power at 100 mph to travel 300-miles in the air. This would necessitate 75-kilowatt-hours of energy, or roughly four kilograms of hydrogen gas (compared to 50 kilograms of gasoline). Another advantage over a gasoline engine is that the fuel cell prop has only a single moving part!
The project involved 10 teams of students, each asigned a subproject and guided by volunteers and a student coordinator. The teams underwent biweekly review of their progress.
The Final product featured the DynAero Lafayette III Airframe being outfitted with a 75-kilowatt UQM electric motor and 5-kilowatt NiMH 277VDC battery unit.
The project demonstration was held at the Worcester Airport, and the plane was displayed at the EAA Airshow.