Fuel-Cell Propulsion System for a High-Altitude Research Platform
Fuel-Cell Propulsion System for a High-Altitude
Aurora Flight Sciences Corporation
Alexandria, VA 22312
John S. Langford
A fuel-cell-based electric propulsion system for very high-altitude aircraft will
be investigated. This system would potentially be capable of reaching altitudes of
up to 40 km (131,000 ft) with a scientific payload in excess of 450 kg (1000 lbs).
It would be an attractive propulsion alternative for NASA'S proposed High Altitude
Research Platform or other very high altitude aircraft. Phase I will design a system
that uses either cryogenic oxygen or compressed air as the oxidizer for the fuel
cell. The seven tasks to be completed include: fuel cell selection; evaluation of
turbocharging concepts; prediction of propeller performance; analysis of electric
propulsion drive trains; analysis of cooling requirements; preliminary design of
a baseline system; and formulation of results so as to support parametric studies
for aircraft sizing and optimization.
Potential Commercial Application:
Potential Commercial Applications: This project is applicable to high-altitude aircraft
needed to support global, climate research. The company has prospects for private
funding of full-scale development.