Hydrogen-powered UAV in the works


by Mark Rutherford | Submitted Thursday Apr 23, 2009 [08:53 AM]


The prototype UAV is compact and powerful. (Credit: ONR)
In what it says is a "first of its kind" initiative, the U.S. Navy plans to launch sometime this spring an unmanned aerial vehicle for a 24-hour endurance flight carrying a 5-pound payload and powered entirely by a hydrogen-powered fuel cell.

Called the Ion Tiger, the UAV can travel farther and carry heavier loads than earlier battery-powered designs, according to the Office of Naval Research. It also boasts "stealthy characteristics" such as reduced noise, low heat signature, and zero emissions.

"This will really be a demonstration for a fuel cell system in a UAV application," ONR Program Manager Dr. Michele Anderson said. "That's something nobody can do right now."

Fuel cells convert hydrogen and oxygen into water in a pollution-free process to create an electrical current delivering up to double the efficiency of an internal combustion engine, researchers claim.

The Tiger will use a "500-watt polymer fuel cell with a high specific power system." Weight will be reduced using high-pressure lightweight hydrogen storage tanks. The UAV has already "demonstrated sound aerodynamics, high functionality, and low-heat and noise signatures under battery-powered tests," according to ONR.

This test will show how a surveillance drone can operate economically with less possibility of detection and still exceed the duration of previous flights seven-fold.

Collaborators include Protonex Technology and the University of Hawaii.

People who read this, also read...




Tags:uav  autonomous  hydrogen+powered  Navy  fuel+cells 

(http://news.cnet.com/8301-13639_3-10214731-42.html?tag=mncol;title)
back to top


blog comments powered by Disqus
Topic Suggestion?
Send it to our editors using our simple submission form
Advertisements