“Invention isn’t a Eureka moment. It builds on daily observations and listening to people’s issues, especially in operational service.” Selected Great Inventor 2009, Claus Hoffjann is Head of Fuel Cell System Development at Airbus, Hamburg. The award he received is given to scientists and engineers who have made a significant number of high-quality, patented inventions (including software). These inventions have helped pave the way for major competitive advances in technology, systems or processes.
Hoffjan has been a leading inventor for Airbus, with 41 patent families filed between 2003 and 2008. His research has contributed to major safety improvements in fuel cells and new applications in cabin supply systems, in particular three inventions involved in fire suppression systems that use a protective gas extracted from fuel cells to reduce fire hazards in aircraft. Destined for the next generation of Airbus aircraft, these multifunctional fuel cells generate not only energy but also usable inert gas and water.
The Great Inventor: Claus Hoffjan
A fuel cell transforms the energy contained in hydrogen into electricity by combining the hydrogen with oxygen in a 'cold' combustion. The exhaust products are pure water and heat. Fuel cells represent a highly promising technology and Airbus sees considerable potential in applications towards a further significant reduction of emissions, fuel consumption and external noise.
“Claus is an excellent guide for discussing new technology. He and I used to go sailing and discuss new ideas in fuel cells together,” says Hans-Georg Schuldzig, fuel cell specialist. “He is a really invigorating leader,” adds Mahdad Najaf-Pour, who is in charge of co-ordination and organisation in the test hall.
Did you know…?
Airbus has taken on-board the ambitious 2020 ACARE (the Advisory Council for Aeronautics Research in Europe) vision that includes an overall 50% reduction in noise, fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions, and 80% reduction in NOx emissions.