Airbus is conducting research into fuel-cell auxiliary power units with the German aerospace centre DLR, following the research organisations' purchase of seven 12kW fuel-cell power modules from Hydrogenics.
The Canadian fuel cell specialist responded to a call in mid-2007 for the joint Airbus-DLR project and now expects to deliver the last of the seven modules before the end of the first quarter. Four of the seven were delivered last month.
Airbus and Boeing began collaboration on APU fuel cell technology in 2006. Airbus was not available for comment on the DLR research.
"Our fuel cell module is quite [hydrogen] contaminant resistant," says Hydrogenics' chief executive Daryl Wilson. Gaseous hydrogen sources need to be free of other chemicals, down to a few parts per million, for cell efficiency.
While government research has supported fuel cell development, and is still supporting some of his company's work, Wilson says the industry was becoming more commercial. Hydrogenics has other unidentified aerospace customers, he says.
As well as providing power, fuel cells produce water as a byproduct, and this could be used for other onboard applications, says Wilson. He does not know what usees Airbus and DLR could be considering for the water supply.