Federal Aviation Administration approval of beyond visual line of sight unmanned air vehicle (UAV) operations could spur drone makers and operators to adopt hydrogen fuel cell powerplants.

This a perspective shared by some hydrogen fuel cell manufacturers, who claim that their powerplants’ high energy density are a better fit for long-endurance flights than batteries.

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MetaVista hydrogen fuel cell powered UAV

Intelligent Energy

“Fuel cell systems have been famously dubbed ‘the technology of tomorrow – and always will be.’ But, I think commercial UAVs are going to change that,” said Andy Kelly, head of UAV development for Intelligent Energy, a fuel cell manufacturer, on 30 April at the AUVSI Xponential conference. “When beyond visual line of sight legislation comes to reality, the ranges that a fuel cell can offer will be a requirement, rather than a nice-to-have.”

A hydrogen fuel cell powered multirotor UAV that weighs 25kg (55lb) typically has three times the endurance of a similar battery-powered drone, he says.

“As you go larger in a fuel cell system it actually gets much higher than that,” says Kelly. “We’ve seen flight times that are five, six, seven times that of a comparative battery.”

On April 16, South Korean company MetaVista claimed a multirotor UAV endurance record using an 800W hydrogen fuel cell made by Intelligent Energy. That drone flew for a little more than 12h.

In addition to providing higher energy density, hydrogen fuel cells are also quicker to refill than a battery, taking only seconds, Kelly says. Such systems also have few moving parts, which keeps vibration low. In addition, fuel cells come with a small battery that provides surge power to the rotors, but can be used as a backup power source as well.

UAV DACH: Beitrag im Original auf http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/hydrogen-fuel-cells-could-star-in-long-endurance-uav-457856/, mit freundlicher Genehmigung von Flight Global automatisch importiert, Der Beitrag gibt nicht unbedingt die Meinung oder Position des UAV DACH e.V. wieder. Das Original ist in englischer Sprache. Der Beitrag gibt nicht die Meinung von UAV DACH e.V. wieder. Der Beitrag gibt nicht die Meinung von UAV DACH e.V. wieder.