Hydrogen Fuel Cell UAV

A hydrogen fuel cell is a device that converts hydrogen gas & air into electricity and water. Although these devices are much lower power density than batteries, they can pump out that power for many hours, depending on the amount of fuel you are storing.

At Loughborough University UK, we are working on a fuel cell and LiPo hybrid, to give you the oompf for take off (and go-arounds!) and the long endurance for cruise and loiter.
The base aircraft is the Skywalker X8, modified to carry considerably more weight than it is designed for (currently 4.5kg all up, and pushing towards 6kg with more testing).
This video briefly explains the platform setup, shows a video using ArduPilot's autonomous take-off, and concludes with a short 4.5kg flight.
In the coming weeks look forward to videos of the payload approaching 6kg, and the fuel cell being connected properly and providing some of the power!

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  • The best pic I have is this one


  • Hi Simon,

    do you happen to have some pictures of that?

    Thank you in advance!

  • hi francis. I embedded a 10mm carbon fibre web into the wing at 1/4 chord and used fiberglass tape on the underside of the wing to tension it in a slight anhedral
  • Hi Simon,

    how exactly did you make the x8 more robust for carrying the extra weight?

    Thanks for sharing your interesting studies.

  • Moderator
    Theoretically you may be correct but at the speeds we fly wings are king, less mass less drag= more payload, my x5 flying with camera at 1,1kg on 3amps cruise will beat most conventional set ups because its simple.
  • Simon, you told that "Flying wings ... are normally more aerodynamically efficient since you do not need a tailplane creating downforce, and all the structure to support it."
    I don't think it's true. The profile of a flying wing is far less efficient than a normal profile, as the stability and the downforce of the tail has to be embedded in the wing profile, resulting in a less than optimal aerodynamically design. From an aerodynamic point of view flying wings are not very good, and if possible are to be excluded from efficient designs. But in the same time congratulation for your efforts!
  • http://youtu.be/iKENx6x2hpo

    Just finished making a slightly better video!

  • Hi Wolfgang,

    Apologies about youtube not showing up. Not sure why but I will try and rectify this today.

    Motor = Hyperion z4025-12 1.8kW

    ESC = Hyperion Titan 85A HV

    The fuel cell is a commercial off the shelf Horizon H100 hydrogen fuel cell.

  • Hi Simon

    A very interesting project indeed.

    I have had a few bad launches on a too heavy X8 aircraft and bust some electronics as a result of it. I have tried to access your youtube cast to get the info on your motor and ESC, but unfortunately the cast was not available. Could you tell me the specification of the motor and ESC?

    Where did you get the fuel cells from?

    With kind regards


  • Hi all, thanks for the input. This is quite an exciting project for me!

    A ducted fan typically isn't too efficient, but the Hyfish wasn't designed to be; it was a high speed fuel cell demonstrator. 

    Typically for small aircraft flying wings are often the best choice as you get a lot of room internally for all your kit right on the CoG; with a lengthy fuselage & components spread out you sacrifice a lot of pitch authority due to the increased inertia. Flying wings are harder to design but this is COTS so didn't concern me too much! The are normally more aerodynamically efficient since you do not need a tailplane creating downforce, and all the structure to support it.

    It is always a trade off between what is numerically the "best" solution, and what is the "engineering compromise." So for this being a heavy chuck launch you need a massive wing area and a very stiff wing. Also the ground effect on landing is quite beneficial so it doesn't shred itself to bits.

    This is all interesting stuff though, thanks for your input. I shall keep you all posted on my progress and please feel free to ask questions, queries & criticise!

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