THIS IS YOUR CHANCE TO SHARE WITH OTHERS, KEY FACTS ABOUT HYDROGEN FOR VTOL AIRCRAFT.
Gigajoule Jug Consultants Director: Bud Skriba (in white shirt, far left seat at table, next to Mark Moore, who was then with NASA-Langley, now at UBER Elevate) helped Mike Hirschberg, Editor of Vertiflite, (third from right, at table) launch the VFS (Vertical Flight Society) Transformational Vertical Flight seminar series.
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The H2 economy did not happen because of the cost of generating, distributing, and storage of this extremely light weight energy storage chemistry that can be made simply from water, anywhere.
Generating and Liquefying H2: energy source, requires almost 10 times more energy than it can generate in existing fuel cells. But if freely captured wind and sun energies are used, then no problem.
All existing fuel cell designs (for cars, etc.) assume "efficiency" is the critical factor. But for VTOLs, weight/power level is the key design issue, hence new fuel cell designs, integral to the craft are key.
Historically, H2 is liquefied for superior rockets, but keeping it cold for long times was the challenge. THAT, problem has finally been solved by Pulse Tube Cryo-coolers and new use of brilliant insulation techniques that prevent "boil-off" and require more expensive tanks based on vacuum insulation.
To justify H2 as an automobile fuel, industry has opted for very high pressure tanking (10Kpsi). BUT now we have several concepts for "solid state" adsorber at LN2 conditions, for safe, long term storage. Our choice are Aerogel co-polymers containing cheap metal amalgams at modest pressures.
Hydrogen is a very safe energy store. It floats up and away, does not generate poisonous smoke when burned, and does not burn for hours, but rather it quickly explodes, and is perfect for VTOL aircraft. The real problem is when it has to fit in a consumer's car in the garage, and needs to find a H2 GAS-STATION.
Previously, H2 was stored best (gravimetrically as for rockets) as a liquid, but vendors had very high costs to both liquefy the gas and maintain the cryogenic storage technologies. THAT has all changed with new tank ideas, and use of "free"environmental energy inputs
When everyone wanted a fuel cell based electric car, they also wanted a direct equivalent of gasoline. AKA storage of H2 at room temperature and pressures. NONE of the candidates fro the last 20 years was a success. Hence no super "Freedom Car" industry took off.
Since the DOE history of H2 was focused on "automobiles" they cared more about volumetric capacity than weight. BUT H2 is light and voluminous, so it is ideal for an aircraft that can be "bulky" but weights next to nothing. That is achieved by making the cryo-pressure tank part of the aircraft's structure (wing.tail-boom, etc)
All previous attempts to cheaply store lots of H2 have failed, since they were based on "chemical" thinking, that the H2 will be "sold" as has been gasoline. RATHER, the H2 must be made using hardware that is part of the VTOL aircraft, and with energy inputs that are random and cost nothing (if the craft's aerodynamics and skins can also "wind-mill" and solar collector based)
Thanks to brilliant R&D by NASA (with my help) the storage of H2 on super-light-weight Aerogel materials, held at cryo-cold conditions, at modest pressures, we now have the right kind of tank that can be engineered as part of the core mechanical structure of future VTOLs (not for historic transcontinental "jet" thrust commercial/passenger aircraft applications).
The real breakthrough for H2 is the choice of the vehicle, NOT cars, or trains, or buses, or rockets. USAF failed to see the importance of "Predator" drone (pilotless) flight. Key was to take off and land issues that were difficult for the Predator. BUT with VTOL flight characteristics, a vehicle can be designed with LOTS of H2/O2 to stay aloft for very long times (SILENTLY)