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A new approach for onboard aircraft power is evaluated by Airbus and partners

12 September 2012 Feature story

Airbus’ pursuit of new, more efficient on-board power sources for its aircraft is being highlighted by the display of a Multifunctional Fuel Cell (MFFC) system concept at the ILA Berlin Air Show. 

Through a partnership with the DLR German Aerospace Centre and Parker Aerospace, this joint evaluation is studying the MFFC’s use instead of today’s gas turbine-based auxiliary power units.

In the MFFC system concept, the fuel cell would – for the first time – act as an independent power source capable of supplying electrical power throughout the aircraft, including the cabin.   Positioning of the fuel cell is planned in the cargo hold, while the system’s liquid hydrogen tank, heat exchangers and fans are to be located in the tail cone section.

Providing approximately 100 kW of power, the MFFC system offers the potential for significantly higher output than a fuel cell emergency power system flight tested on an A320 during a 2008 campaign involving Airbus, the DLR and Michelin.  This earlier fuel cell was installed on a cargo pallet and produced some 25 kW of power.

Flight testing of the MFFC on an A320 could occur in the middle of this decade.  For its concept appearance at the ILA Berlin Air Show, the Multifunctional Fuel Cell mock-up is being exhibited on the booth of Germany’s Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology.

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