During the 2012 ILA Berlin Show, A German aerospace research firm Bauhaus Luftfahrt unveiled its concept for a zero-emissions 190-seat airliner that may enter service by 2035. The airliner is powered by two electric engines using a large bank of batteries, up to 16 containers with an energy density estimated to be 2kWh/kg. Comparatively, a Chevy Volt’s Li-On battery has energy density of 0.09 kWh/kg.
Bauhaus projected that battery technology will advanced to a state such that such airliner can achieve a range of about 600nm by 2030, but it will only cover 59% of the routes similar sized aircraft flies today. By 2035, it could reach a range of 900nm, and by 2040, up to 1400 nm. While the projected range is astounding for an electric powered aircraft, it is still has a range less than half of a 737-800 today.
To squeeze out every last percentage of efficiency, the Ce-liner utilizes a unconventional non-planar c-wing configuration. This allows the aircraft to still retain the conventional tube fuselage design and minimize operational complexity associated with other configurations such as blended wing body (BWB).
The prospect of zero-emissions commercial airliner is exciting, but there are still questions that need to be answered, aside from progression of battery technology. For example, the required recharge time would be longer than a regular turn-around time. Bauhaus Luftfahrt claims that one can just switch out the batteries, which is feasible. But now an airline would need purchase huge quantities of batteries to support its fleet, in proportion to the charge time.
A picture of this cool looking airplane is located below.