When Anita Sengupta (M.S. ‘00, PhD ‘05) is 10,000 feet up in the air, engaged in her favorite hobby of flying single-engine aircraft, she’s in her element.
“At that height, you can really witness the beauty of the landscape – how everything is connected,” said Sengupta. “The desert is connected to the mountains, is connected to the ocean. It gives you a broader understanding of our capacity to impact our environment, for better or worse. Flight is beautiful – and I believe that flight can also be carbon emission free.”
Sengupta’s ecological consciousness inspired her to found her own company, Hydroplane, with the ambitious goal of de-carbonizing aviation. Her team of scientists and engineers is applying the principles of electric propulsion to develop and build a 200-kilowatt hydrogen fuel cell powerplant that will enable sustainable flight – and a paradigm shift in the quest for new sources of renewable fuel.
A scalable solution
The beauty of this solution is that it can be scaled for multiple forms of vehicle including single-engine aircraft, helicopters and regional aircraft, as well as potential use for the marine sector and heavy-duty ground transportation. Not only are these sectors major sources of emissions – they also involve logistical systems that cannot accommodate the extra payload of heavy batteries, further demonstrating the value of liquid hydrogen as a fuel source.