Arno's EnergyIdeas (17)
35 locomotives cannot fly ...
That 35 locomotives cannot fly is a globally accepted fact. A locomotive from the coal mining industry in Canada, for example, weighs 16 tons. Thirty-five of such locomotives creates a mass of 560 tons (560,000 kg). Amazingly, these 560 tons are equal to the maximum take-off weight of an Airbus A380, currently the world's largest passenger aircraft from the European aircraft manufacturer Airbus. The company trades today as: "Airbus, an EADS Company." In the end, the 560 tons will in fact fly. It is "only" a question of molecular arrangement…
Why the comparison with the locomotives from the Canadian coal mining? Firstly, at the beginning of the 20th Century, this transportation was having its hayday. Secondly, in the same period - namely in December 1903 - the first controlled flight of the motor-driven aircraft to the principle of "heavier than air" took place. Orville and Wilbur Wright, brought their "Flyer" to the air. It was powered by a 77 kg, four-cylinder four-stroke petrol engine with 12 horsepower (9 kW), delivered at the shaft. Kitty Hawk on the Atlantic coast in North Carolina, USA, is now considered a "cradle of commercial aviation."
At this time nobody could imagine that this little “jump” (the first flight was only 12 seconds and 37 meters long,10.8 km / h) would trigger the creation of entirely new industries unknown at that time. In 2007 there were 29.6 million flights worldwide, representing 80,987 individual take-offs and landings per day. In 2007 a global capacity of 3,495,955,781 passenger seats was made available to a customer pool of max. 9.6 million passengers per day.
The Airbus A380 offers a maximum range of up to 8,000 nm for a maximum of 853 passengers (depending on customer configuration). The first commercial flight was scheduled in October 2007 with Singapore Airlines on the route Singapore-Sydney. The auxiliary power unit (APU) of the A380, providing electricity for the autonomous operation of the electrical and hydraulic systems, in particular on the ground and in case of emergency, creates 2x 115V 400 Hz @ 120 kVA, manufactured by Pratt & Whitney, Canada; the system integration is performed by Hamilton Sundstrand.
What does all this have to do with hydrogen and fuel cells?
A lot and a little. A lot, if you consider that the imagination (and creativity) of the aviation pioneers at their time, including men like Clement Ader, Gustav Weisskopf and Otto Lilienthal, was far from far-reaching enough to be able to imagine what would be come a reality thanks to their inventions. Wright and Lilienthal were entrepreneurs with their own companies, driven by the desire: "... to add their bit to the eventual success of a future inventor..." And they did this with great meticulousness - always documenting all their work and progress in order to learn from their experience for further conclusions. Motivation and funding were completely self-determined. They never knew or needed tools like a roadmap.
A little, if you consider what can develop from today’s known hydrogen and fuel cells technologies, not only in the aircraft industry. Again, in my personal, worldwide experience, only the imagination (and creativity) are setting the borders and limitations. The possibilities of hydrogen and fuel cells for us, and especially for future generations, are: "far beyond our imagination". Of that I am sure. However, this development is far from being a self-runner; it takes a lot of clever minds, who are active, durable and, above all, self-involved.
Hydrogen and fuel cells will one day offer new services that go far beyond what we are all are to imagine together today. And hopefully sooner than within the next 104 years.
Oh yes, there was still something more unifying: Chairman of the Board of Directors of EADS is Dr. Ruediger Grube, a board member of Daimler AG. Grube was VIP guest at the Group Exhibit Hydrogen and Fuel Cells at the Hanover Fair 2002.
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