Protonex announces new UAV fuel cell power system
Protonex has announced that its UAV-H500 fuel cell power system for unmanned aerial and ground vehicles is now commercially available, bringing more cost-effective alternatives to the market. The company made the announcement 2 August 2012.
The UAV-H500 is a commercial variant of the power system used by the US Naval Research Laboratory to set a flight endurance record on its small Ion Tiger UAV. The Ion Tiger completed a 26 hour flight powered by the Protonex power system, setting an endurance record for fuel cell powered flight.
According to the company, electric propulsion for small UAV provides low cost of ownership and very quiet operation. While the energy density available from even advanced battery solutions limits flight durations and increases operational costs, the 26+ hour duration of the Ion Tiger flight represents a seven-fold improvement in endurance over available advanced batteries. The system employs a high performance, ultra-light proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell system, coupling advanced balance of plant components with stack technology that can achieve a power density of 1,000 watts per kilogram.
The UAV-H500 brings this capability to the commercial UAV market. Prior to the UAV-H500, extended endurance was only achievable with larger, more costly UAVs platforms. The company said ‘the UAV-H500 is an extremely simple and robust system, providing the operator with longer maintenance intervals and lower operational costs than comparable combustion engines. Critical missions can now be achieved using smaller, more cost-effective UAV platforms that incorporate the Protonex advanced power system.’
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