Doctor Diesel


Hi Doc,


There was an interesting story on the BBC website about an electric plane that took its first test flight from Cranfield. It’s a bit short on details, but probably a fuel-cell. Only question is, where is all of the hydrogen going to come from? Because if we have drones, planes, cars, HGVs, all supping from the tank, they will need a clean and low-cost way to make it.


Best wishes

David Price


Hello again, David,


I hope you’re keeping well. Thanks for sharing the information. I must confess, I missed this one.


The biggest challenge facing hydrogen-powered aircraft is the weight of the batteries. You could say that the weight is a reason why the technology will never take off. However, the work of ZeroAvia and the like proves otherwise.


You’re right to question where the hydrogen will come from. Did you catch the news last month that industry consortium Norsk e-Fuel is planning Europe’s first commercial plant for hydrogen-based aviation fuel? The plan is to convert Norway’s renewable electricity resources into renewables for the aviation industry. All being well, it should be up and running within three years. Depending on the success or otherwise of the project, we could see further hydrogen stations appearing at airports across the world.


Not that this solves the problem. There are other things to consider, such as the range of hydrogen-powered aircraft, the use of lightweight materials to counter the weight of the batteries, the potential rethinking of aircraft design, and getting a commercially viable passenger aircraft off the ground.


In a bizarre twist of fate, hydrogen technology could be assisted by the Covid-19 outbreak. The world is rethinking the way it travels, works, and consumes energy. With a clean slate, hydrogen could take off.


Another one to watch, David.


Kind Regards,


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