Horizon releases drop-in fuel cell system for unmanned aircraft
June 9, 2009
Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies latest hydrogen fuel cell release is designed as a drop-in replacement for battery packs used in small electric Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS). Weighing 4.4lbs (2kg) and storing 900Wh of usable electric energy, the Aeropak can to increase flight endurance by up to 300% over lithium batteries, meaning longer range missions and more energy to run on-board cameras and sensors.
Designed for high-impact and able to operate at up to 22,000 feet (6700m), this miniaturized power system uses refillable dry-fuel cartridges and is scalable (up to "several kilowatts") and customizable to suit different unmanned platforms. The drop-in design should also make modifications unnecessary.
Apart from enabling flights to go further and last longer and the ability to run more power-hungry devices, the Aeropak offers a very low heat signature and and silent, reliable power. Other applications are likely to include powering remote ground systems and as emergency power back-up for larger systems.
Perhaps best known to Gizmag for the fuel-cell powered H-Racer RC car and for its involvement in the radical Hyfish jet-wing aircraft project in 2007 Horizon supplied a hydrogen fuel cell that helped the Pterosoar micro-UAV set new distance records for aircraft of its type.
AeroVironment has achieved also achieved success by marrying fuel cell technology to the UAV platform, setting a new long-duration flight record of over nine-hours with fuel cell hybrid-powered Puma UAS.