UL Lafayette gets grant to design aircraft fuel cells

(Photography by Tim Mueller) The Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport

An energy storage and power generation system currently being designed at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette could make flying less harmful to the environment, reports KADN in Lafayette. The $2.26 million grant is part of a $18.5 million round of funding from the Department of Energy’s Range Extenders for Electric Aviation with Low Carbon and High Efficiency, or REEACH, program.

The inclusion of solid oxide fuel cells in the next generation of electric aircraft could cut carbon emissions. Solid oxide fuel cells are electrochemical devices that generate cost-effective electricity and, depending on the type of fuel that’s used, emit no or lower amounts of pollutants such as carbon dioxide.

The study’s first phase will examine optimizing the fuel cell to make it lighter and enabling it to power an entire airplane. The Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Project Agency-Energy oversees the REEACH and ASCEND programs. Both initiatives aim to decrease energy usage and associated carbon emissions for commercial aircraft propulsion systems. Read the full story.