Protonex powers ScanEagle UAV flight
Ballard Power Systems' subsidiary Protonex has successfully powered test flights of the Insitu ScanEagle UAS with its Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cell propulsion system, the company announced on 25 April.
According to the company the test flights successfully demonstrated the integration and operation of the fuel cell propulsion system and the high pressure hydrogen fuel tank. Acoustic footprint reduction was also documented, that will enable mission routes that take the ScanEagle closer to its targets.
Compared to traditional internal combustion engine propulsion systems, the PEM propulsion module provides extended mean time between failures of up to five times; silent operation; 100 percent throttle flexibility, including mid-air start-stop capability; and use of existing JP8 fuel in ground refuelling systems.
Peter Kunz, Insitu's chief technology officer, said: 'Insitu continues to progress toward our goal of offering all-electric power and propulsion system options for Insitu platforms. Now in developmental testing, the Protonex fuel cell system has exceeded our power requirements and has integrated very well with the initial target aircraft systems and with general UAS operations. Additional performance tests and customer demonstrations are planned throughout the remainder of this year.'
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