Fuel cell could let drones fly for hours without recharging

A quadcopter drone, equipped with a prototype of the range extender

A quadcopter drone, equipped with a prototype of the range extender (Credit: Intelligent Energy)

From Gizmag

By   JANUARY 11, 2016

Last May, we heard about how Horizon Energy Systems was developing a hydrogen-powered quadcopter that could (hopefully) stay airborne for hours at a time. Soon, however, that drone may not be the only one doing so. That's because Intelligent Energy has unveiled a fuel cell/battery range extender that could become standard equipment on third-party drones.

The idea behind the system is that an onboard hydrogen fuel cell generates electricity, and that electricity is in turn used to charge a linked battery. Not only should this greatly extend how long the drone can go between recharges, but those recharges should only take a couple of minutes – the fuel cell will simply need to be refilled, using a dedicated cartridge.

According to the Intelligent Energy's head of PR, Debbie Hughes, flight times of drones using the system will vary depending on the size of the aircraft. "You could have more fuel on a larger drone meaning a longer flight time, but we believe in the region of two hours," she tells us.

In flight tests of the system, it delivered power consistently enough to allow an onboard camera to record video continuously, with no interruptions.

The range extender was unveiled last week at CES, as was Walkera's methanol-fueled range extender for drones. Intelligent Energy is now seeking commercial partners, who would be interested in integrating the technology into their aircraft.Full article here

Views: 2399

Comment by Darius Jack on January 14, 2016 at 12:38pm

What about ethanol fuel cells since access to ethanol as a fuel is not limited.

(Wikipedia)
"
Ethanol is a hydrogen-rich liquid and it has a higher specific energy (8.0 kWh/kg) compared to methanol (6.1 kWh/kg).
"

Comment by Damian on January 14, 2016 at 1:12pm

Plus you can drink it when cold, bored or when the drone is gone ...

Comment by Ouroboros on January 14, 2016 at 6:18pm

Walkera's methanol fuel cell range extender strikes me as easier to use compared to the hydrogen fuel cell systems that have been demoed so far, for average people, as methanol is easier to acquire and manage without excessively specialized hardware or vendor lockin.

Comment by Digital Wings on January 15, 2016 at 12:20pm
@Damian yes!!!!! Hastag Starts 3d printing my margharita drone.
Comment by Dale Greer on January 16, 2016 at 4:12pm

Here's a consumer fuel cell called UPP. It uses hydrogen, and you can replace your spent fuel cell at places in the UK. It's only 5V though, delivering 25 wh, and weighs 620g. A 3DR Iris+ 5100 battery delivers around 55 wh and weighs 320g. Sure wish there was more info on the Intelligent Energy fuel cell.

Comment by Patrick Poirier on January 16, 2016 at 5:02pm

@Dale  

Horizon Energy Systems cell specific energy is  700 Wh/kg , UPP  is 40 Wh/kg wich is 17 times less efficient.

The magic number is 2 kWh/kg which is the effective power generated by a standard internal combustion engine (20% efficiency) running on regular gasoline (10 kWh/kg).

Comment by Darius Jack on January 16, 2016 at 5:25pm

My friends have developed HHO Generators, delivering H2 and O2 directly into combustion chamber of Diesel motor in trucks.

Generally, it makes no sense, since more energy is consumed than generated since electrolysis of water requires excess energy delivered by generator + car battery system.

But I have studied OBD2 Diesel controller to burn extra H2 O2 fuel mix to get clean exhaust gas fumes when Diesel motor's RPM i slow (when you start from a stop and press gas pedal excessively to get your truck to move fast quick and too much oil is injected into combustion chamber to get 100% clean burned by old motor).

It works fine in case of old Diesel motors, no more black cloud behind your truck made of exhaust gases.

Comment by Robert Pigeon on January 16, 2016 at 8:27pm

Darius Jack you drank the coolaid... 1 or 2 ppm does nothing to a reaction.

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