Re: hydrogen powered planes

From: (William Joseph Solomon)
Organization: University of Tasmania, Australia.
Date:         21 Nov 95 01:19:24 
References:   1
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  or MIME structure (Gaia  1) writes:

>When is the aviation industry going to be serious about the looming
>shortage of fossil fuels and their disastrous effects on the atmosphere--
>CO2 contributes over 59% of the greenhouse gases to global warming?

What information about the 'looming shortage' do you have? If you
include gas and coal then fossil fuel reseres of many hundereds of
years exist. Any possible shortage is one of the least important
reasons for environmentalists to be worried about reliance on fossil fuels.

It's one thing to propose an alternative power plant for aeroplanes but
quite another to come up with something that is competative with the
current gas turbines.

>In 1957 NASA already tested a hydrogen powered engine in order to find a
>new powerplant for a super spyplane that would escape detection.
>Astronauts take hydrogen and oxygen into space for their electricity needs
>and their H2O. It seems that Germany and Japan are ahead of the US in
>respect to research in the use of hydrogen, not only as an industrial
>product but also as a transportation fuel.

I'm not American but I think you would be much mistaken in believing
that your researchers are any less competent than the Japanese or Germans.
Research is a world-wide activity and there is much exchange of information.

Swapping to hydrogen dosen't necessarily solve all the problems - you
still have to make the hydrogen. OK if you're willing to do that
by nuclear or hydroelectric means (solar, wind are still not economically
viable) but not many environmentalists consider these acceptable alternatives.
Burnt inefficiently in air hydrogen will still produce NOx.

>How long have particulalry those communities that suffer most from large
>airports with their concomitant noise, land, water and airpollution wait
>for a fuel cell powered airplane????
>Dr. Frans C. Verhagen, energy sociologist, New York City.
>Frans C. Verhagen, Ph.D.<> <>
>===We are made wise not by recollections of the past, but our
>responsibility to the future"==(George Bernard Shaw)

These communities benefit from the cheap and reliable means of
transport modern aircraft provide. If community feelings are that
strongly against use of fossil fuels in aricraft then they must be
willing to either abandon aircraft altogether of pay for research and
development into alternatives.  I don't think it is fair to assume that
the avaition industry is being backward in responding to environmental
concern. Since 1975 the fuel consumption of the B747 has improved by
more than 24 percent. 3 percent of this improvement is due to reduced
drag and the rest comes from engine improvement. (ref - N. A. Cumpsty
"Current Aerodynamic Issues for Aircraft Engines", in 11 Australasian
Fluid Mechanics Conference" 1992.)  This improvement has been driven by
commercial factors but has had a significant impact on the emmissions
also.  Similar advancements have been made in the noise area, due to
regulatory pressure and  higher bypass ratios.

If the general community (and the media) has such strong concerns about
engineering issues then why don't more people take the time to
understand the technological aspects which play a major role in driving
them.  I think in the Australian media although 85 percent of science
correspondents have university degrees only 15 percent of those are in
science and very few in engineering.

Bill Solomon,
Civil&Mechanical Engineering Dept.
University of Tasmania, Australia