Boeing Explores Fuel Cell Technology

Compiled By Jill Jusko Boeing Commercial Airplanes says it will evaluate fuel cell technology for future Boeing products by first developing and testing an electric-powered demonstrator airplane. The work is being conducted in Madrid, Spain, at Boeing's new research and technology center. A single-engine airplane will have its engine replaced with fuel cells and an electric motor that will turn a conventional propeller. Boeing says fuel cells and electric motors will not replace jet engines on commercial transports, but they eventually could replace gas turbine auxiliary power units. "But first, we're going to learn more about fuel cells by powering a small airplane and, as the technology matures, use fuel cells to power an aircraft electrical system, such as the in-flight entertainment system," says Dave Daggett, associate technical fellow in Boeing's environmental performance strategy group. Boeing Madrid will design and integrate the experimental airplane's control system. NASA, fuel cell manufacturers, the automotive industry and several European universities are supporting the project. Test flights are slated to begin in early 2004. Boeing Commercial Airplanes is an operating unit of Boeing Co.

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