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Unmanned Vehicles

Liquid hydrogen tank for ScanEagle 3 undergoes tests

22nd March 2021 - 12:00 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

Hydrogen fuel cell project for ScanEagle is part of a larger development effort to compare acoustic and thermal signatures of electric-powered and traditionally fuelled UAVs.

Insitu announced on 21 March that a liquid hydrogen (LH2) flight tank for its ScanEagle 3 UAV has completed initial fill, pressure and vapour generation testing.

The tests were carried out last month in the Hydrogen Properties for Energy Research Lab at Washington State University. They verified performance metrics of the LH2 tank before upcoming flights of ScanEagle 3 equipped with a proton-exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell power system. 

The LH2 tank integration project is part of a larger development effort to compare acoustic and thermal signatures of a small UAV powered with an internal combustion engine versus an all-electric power system, Insitu noted.

Andrew Duggan, managing director of Insitu Pacific, said: ‘Operationally, fuel-cell-powered platforms provide the potential for longer endurance missions, increased power availability for payloads, as well as significant reductions in noise signature.’

According to Insitu, fuel cells support better ISR data collection because PEM fuel cell stack emissions are limited to small amounts of water and trace amounts of dihydrogen.

Thermal and acoustic signatures from fuel cells and electric motors are also lower than traditional internal combustion engines, enabling mission routes closer to targets.

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