UV - Unmanned Vehicles

Ballard introduces new UAS fuel cell

3rd January 2018 - 10:30 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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Ballard Power Systems has developed a next generation fuel cell propulsion system to power UAS, that it will flight test for durability under a follow-on contract from Boeing Insitu.

The next-generation 1.3 kilowatt fuel cell propulsion system is being tested to power flights of Insitu's ScanEagle UAS.

Ballard and Insitu have been working together over the past two years to integrate Ballard’s prior generation fuel cell propulsion system, a complete hydrogen power system for small unmanned fixed wing and vertical take off and landing platforms, into the ScanEagle UAS. Successful flight testing of that propulsion system took place in mid-2017.

The next generation fuel cell propulsion system delivers increased power density, resulting from a new membrane electrode assembly (MEA) design; reduced cost, resulting from a combination of new MEA and one-step fuel cell stack sealing process; and extended lifetime.

Phil Robinson, vice president of unmanned systems at Protonex, a Ballard subsidiary, said: ‘This new fuel cell has the potential to deliver a range of benefits compared to the use of an internal combustion engine, or ICE, to power the ScanEagle. These benefits are likely to include an increase in reliability and available electrical power along with a simultaneous reduction in audible noise, thereby enabling lower altitude missions.'

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