Perceptive readers of this blog know about the conversation surrounding the transportation sector, including a look at the time it takes to charge an electric vehicle and how high-speed rail fits into the national transportation discussion.  A lot of progress is being made in making travel more sustainable.

Can the nascent revolution of more sustainable modes of transportation carry over into air travel?

While the focus of the auto industry is mainly on electric vehicles, the development of pure electric-powered planes is yielding progress primarily on short-haul flights with limited passenger capacity.  Breakthroughs in research on hydrogen power technology for planes is making some amazing progress.  Lightweight graphite fiber tanks that store up to ten-times more hydrogen than existing tanks have recently been developed.  The technology is promising, with tests showing airline routes that can be up to four-times as far as those using traditional aviation fuel, with a 50% reduction in operating costs and zero-emissions.  The difference in distance is like flying from New York City to San Francisco instead of from New York City to Chicago.

While on the subject, let’s touch briefly on some attributes of hydrogen:

  • Hydrogen is the lightest and most abundant element in the universe, including here on Earth, where it makes up about 75% of the mass of all matter
  • When used to power a fuel cell, the only byproducts are water and heat
  • The energy never dissipates until it is used, whether stored in liquid form or as a gas
    • Think about that one for a moment- other energy storage sources, like batteries, lose power over time and need to be recharged, even if not used
  • While internal combustion engines operate at about 25% efficiency, and power plants run at about 35%, hydrogen fuel cells can operate at about 80% efficiency
  • Hydrogen can be produced locally, in ways that include renewable resources
    • This brings us to the discussion about Green or Blue Hydrogen, amongst other forms, but let’s save that for a future post

While a lot of research and infrastructure development is needed for hydrogen technology like this to be scaled, it is encouraging to see progress being made on long-range zero-emission aviation!

Enjoy the story below on the technology behind the hydrogen aviation development and let me know what your thoughts are.

~ Brian Kasal- The Leadership Matrix

Click here- Extremely lightweight hydrogen tanks could quadruple the range of passenger airliners

P.S.- The 2022 Inductees to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame were announced today, and what a great group it is!  As a nod to the inductees, I’m including a Leadership Matrix post I wrote awhile back about how people turned to learning music during the pandemic.  Here’s the post- Enjoy!  But he could play a GUITAR just like a ringing a bell…

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