Extremely Lightweight Fuel Cell Based Power Supply System for Commercial Aircrafts

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Princeton Junction, New Jersey
Project Term:
01/01/2021 - 12/31/2022

Critical Need:

ARPA-E seeks to mitigate the growing environmental burden associated with commercial air travel at minimum economic cost. The REEACH objective is to develop a disruptive energy storage and power generation (ESPG) system to convert the chemical energy contained in energy-dense carbon neutral liquid fuels (CNLFs) into electric power for aircraft propulsion via electric powertrains and other key systems. Ultra-high conversion efficiency and high specific power and energy are critical for technical feasibility and commercial success of the ESPG systems due to CNLFs’ generally either lower specific energies or higher projected cost compared to incumbent fossil-based jet fuels.

Project Innovation + Advantages:

Fuceltech proposes to develop an innovative low-cost, lightweight Energy Storage and Power Generation (ESPG) system for commercial aircraft. Fuceltech will develop a monopolar wound single fuel cell potentially as high as 10 kW rating and a novel stacking approach to deliver hundreds of kWs of power from a single small and lightweight stack. Fuceltech will use ethanol as a fuel and a reformer that delivers extremely low CO concentration in the reformate to the fuel cell. In phase 1, Fuceltech will develop 2kW power single cells and demonstrate stacked cells of >5kW output power; in phase 2, the team will build and test a complete breadboard 5kWe system integrating a fuel cell stack and reformer and meeting stringent weight and power requirements of the REEACH program.

Potential Impact:

Electrified aviation propulsion systems have the potential to achieve ultra-high fuel-to-propulsive power conversion efficiencies compared with existing turbofan and turboprop systems.


This program could ensure U.S. technology leadership in ultra-high efficiency aircraft propulsion systems capable of exploiting CNLFs.


A high specific power electrified propulsion system framework could enable net-zero carbon aviation by facilitating the transition to carbon neutral liquid fuels (CNLFs) while meeting all mission requirements.


The developed ESPG sub-system could provide the foundational technology for a new industry in ultra-high efficiency propulsion systems while improving the competitiveness of the existing air transportation industry by reducing fuel costs.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Grigorii Soloveichik
Project Contact:
Dr. Chuni Ghosh
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