Aircraft

Paragon looks to hydrogen engines for its ultra-long-range Soar eVTOL

Paragon looks to hydrogen engi...
A number of smaller fans in the wings add vertical lift and quick response
A number of smaller fans in the wings add vertical lift and quick response
View 4 Images
The Soar, a lift/cruise design with tilting rear props for horizontal winged flight
1/4
The Soar, a lift/cruise design with tilting rear props for horizontal winged flight
A number of smaller fans in the wings add vertical lift and quick response
2/4
A number of smaller fans in the wings add vertical lift and quick response
Entry is via a door at the front and a lifting cabin lid. Lady on the right clearly not impressed
3/4
Entry is via a door at the front and a lifting cabin lid. Lady on the right clearly not impressed
It's a sleek-looking design, but the hydrogen-combustion powertrain is probably the most groundbreaking part of the Soar
4/4
It's a sleek-looking design, but the hydrogen-combustion powertrain is probably the most groundbreaking part of the Soar
View gallery - 4 images

Paragon VTOL Aerospace is working on a second-gen version of its nine-seat Soar air taxi design, and it's settled on hydrogen-burning engines for a powertrain it claims will deliver monster range figures between 300-900 miles (480-1,450 km), depending on passenger numbers.

Soar is an interesting lift and cruise airframe design, chiefly lifted by eight large, ducted electric fans running along the sides of the fuselage. A number of smaller fans out wider on the aircraft's wings are presumably more for agile response and quick stabilization than for bulk lift. The rear two large fans are designed to tilt upward and provide forward thrust for winged flight.

The cabin in the current renders is a six-seater, and was designed for 500-mile (805-km) range figures using a hybrid-electric powertrain. In an interview with FutureFlight, Paragon founder Dwight Smith revealed that the design as pictured would end up being too loud using the off-the-shelf parts available.

The new design, targeted for its first prototype test flights in early 2022, will start out running a battery system fed by a hydrogen-fueled combustion engine acting as a range extender. Smith doesn't appear interested in fuel cells at this point, believing that directly burning the hydrogen will get the best bang for buck, and the current plan is for the production version to run a combustion engine using liquid hydrogen as fuel.

Entry is via a door at the front and a lifting cabin lid. Lady on the right clearly not impressed
Entry is via a door at the front and a lifting cabin lid. Lady on the right clearly not impressed

That does raise the difficulty Paragon will have getting its vehicle to market; aviation-grade liquid hydrogen systems are in an embryonic state currently, making the company's 2024/5 target for commencement of commercial service seem very optimistic. Then there's the matter of money; upwards of a billion dollars will be needed, and Paragon has been relying on private funding to this point.

But the company is moving to kick things into high gear, making plans to build a factory and VTOL vertiport hub on 730 acres of land in Brownville, Texas, close to the SpaceX launch facility on the Eastern tip of the Mexican border. We look forward to seeing the new design, and following Paragon's progress with hydrogen combustion.

Check out a silent render video below.

Paragon VTOL Aerospace

Source: Paragon VTOL Aerospace via FutureFlight

View gallery - 4 images
10 comments
10 comments
martinwinlow
How extraordinarily stupid. We're on earth are they going to get all the hydrogen from?
paul314
Just thinking of how much this will cost compared to a regular taxi. But perhaps you don't need to sell that many for the venture capitalists to break even.
Robt
Burning hydrogen in a combustion engine produces significant quantities of NOx which is a nasty local pollutant as well as being a greenhouse gas
I’d like to know if they plan to use some type of filter to address that issue
Daniel Williams
@martinwinlow - $500 billion in hydrogen projects announced until 2030
michael_dowling
martinwinlow Most of these proposed VTOLs use H2 for fuel. It can be produced with renewable energy. I have heard proposals to have it generated at airports using solar panels set up on the unused space between runways.
Dan Lewis
The tree-encircled landing pads look like big trouble, as animals such as birds might well inhabit them.
Birds and props don't mix well.
Steven Clarkson
More MOre MORE i want to hear more about hydrogen fuel cell tech...what happened to SKAI'S breakthrough ??

And where's toyota at as of now ?
foxpup
Electric cars will be SOOO much quieter and safer, especially when they go through Boring Company tunnels.
TomLeeM
I think hydrogen is the future. Others might not think so but I think it makes more sense that just battery electric vehicles; especially in some cases. I have read of improvements in hydrogen production and development of the hydrogen fuel cell. there are some engines that can be adapted to use hydrogen (like the one from Liquid Piston).
Nelson Hyde Chick
These will be noisy, but the noise will only bother the poor because the rich will be flying around in these things.