I just saw this over at the Green Car Congress, a blog I frequent to stay up on the latest alternative fuel news in the automotive industry. Today, I saw a historical post, one that our grandkids might look back on in their aviation history books. Boeing Research and Technology Europe (based in Madrid), in conjunction with a group of companies, universities, and institutions, has flown an airplane powered by hydrogen fuel cells. I knew that auto manufacturers were making steady progress on powering cars with fuel cells, but I was caught completely off guard by this one.
The Dimona motor glider built by Diamond Aircraft featured a 20kw hydrogen fuel cell stack. While the technology is still being developed, Boeing does not forsee passenger flights powered by fuel cells, but general aviation could benefit as light aircraft, manned and unmanned, could be powered with such a system.
You can read more details over at Boeing Flies Fuel Cell Airplane at the Green Car Congress, or head over to AutoblogGreen and check out Boeing Fuel Cells up in the Air, which has a diagram of the system.