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AdvancedPropulsionforSmallUnmannedAerialVehicles

TheRoleofFuelCellBasedEnergySystemsforCommercialUAVs

WHITEPAPER

PublishedJanuary2017

COAUTHORS

PaulOsenar,Ph.D.President,ProtonexTechnologyCorporation
JimSiscoPrincipalEngineer,ProtonexTechnologyCorporation
CatharineReidMarketingSpecialist,BallardPowerSystems
Contents
1 Introduction..........................................................................................................................................2
2 CommercialUsesofUAVs.....................................................................................................................3
3 ChallengeswithIncumbentTechnologies............................................................................................4
3.1 BatteryPropulsion........................................................................................................................4
3.2 SmallInternalCombustionEnginePropulsion..............................................................................6
3.3 OtherApproaches.........................................................................................................................8
4 FuelCellPoweredUAVDesignConsiderations.....................................................................................8
4.1 SizeMatters..................................................................................................................................8
4.2 Hybridization.................................................................................................................................9
4.3 FuelingOptions...........................................................................................................................10
5 PathForwardforFuelCellBasedPropulsion.....................................................................................12
5.1 FuelCellUAVDemonstrations....................................................................................................12
5.2 FuelCellUAVDevelopment........................................................................................................13
6 AboutBallardPowerSystems.............................................................................................................14
7 AboutProtonexTechnologyCorporation...........................................................................................14
8 Patents................................................................................................................................................14

Figures
Figure1:Impactofendurancedemandsonpowersystemmass...............................................................5
Figure2:IonTigerUAV................................................................................................................................6
Figure3:BoeingInsituScanEagle..............................................................................................................7
Figure4:Systemweightfraction.................................................................................................................8
Figure5:Energymanagementscheme........................................................................................................9
Figure6:Sodiumborohydridesystemflowdiagram................................................................................10
Figure7:Sodiumborohydridecartridges(1350watthours)....................................................................10
Figure8:NRLXFCSubmarineLaunch(left)andLockheedMartinDesertHawkEER(right).....................12
Figure9:ProtonexPEMfuelcellpropulsionmodule(550W)...................................................................13

Tables
Table1:Comparisonoffuelcellstobatteries.............................................................................................4
Table2:Comparisonoffuelcellstointernalcombustionengines..............................................................7
Table3:Comparisonofhydrogenstoragemethods.................................................................................11
Table4:LaunchedUAVplatforms..............................................................................................................12

AdvancedPropulsionforSmallUnmannedAerialVehicles 1

1 Introduction
Althoughtheyhavebeenprimarilyusedbythemilitary,unmannedaerialvehicles(UAVs),alsoknownas
drones,havealsorecentlybecomesignificanttoolsintheconsumerandcommercialsectors.According
torecentreports,theU.S.Pentagonnowhassome7,000aerialdrones,comparedwithfewerthan50a
decade ago.1 Currently, these unmanned systems are being used primarily in the role of intelligence,
reconnaissance, and surveillance (ISR) from handlaunched to passenger airplanesized systems, with
thecapabilitytocarrysignificantpayloads.

InJune2016,theU.S.DepartmentofTransportationsFederalAviationAdministrationfinalizedthefirst
operational rules for routine use of small UAVs, opening the door to expanded commercial uses. The
newregulationsstreamlinetheprocesstolegallyoperateaUAVandcreatetheopportunityforasmany
as 600,000 commercial drones to be flying in the United States within the next year.2 Internationally,
TealGroupestimatestherewere2.25millionUAVsproducedforcivilapplicationsandoperatingaround
theworldin2016.3

SmallUAVs,withagrosstakeoffweightoflessthan25kg,aredominatingthecommercialuses.There
aresignificantgainstobehadwithUAVsperformingthedull,dirtyordangerousoperationspreviously
performed by larger platforms with humans in the cockpit or that were not previously possible with
mannedaviation.However,withthegrowinginterestinUAVsandtheirpotentialforahostofmilitary,
commercial and civilian applications, limitations in the current stateoftheart propulsion systems are
comingtolight.InthesmallUAVspace,batteriesorinternalcombustionengineshavebeenprimarily
used for propulsion. Both of these technologies will limit the use and efficacy of UAV systems as the
technology continues to evolve and its capabilities expand, requiring gains in autonomy, range, and
reliability.

An alternative technology, hydrogen fuel cells, has come to the forefront as a solution to these
challenges. First demonstrated in military UAVs, fuel cell systems now been proven from a reliability,
durability,andrangeperspective,openingdoorstocommercialandcivilianapplications.

Fuel cellpowered systems offer compelling value for unmanned aerial vehicles due to improved
reliabilityoversmallinternalcombustionengines,enhancingsafeandlowmaintenanceoperation.UAV
systemspoweredbyfuelcellsoperatelongerthantheirbatterycounterparts,withthesamebenefitsof
low thermal and noise signature. Ballard, through our whollyowned subsidiary Protonex, has
demonstratedfuelcellbasedpropulsionasanalternativetobatteryandsmallenginesonanumberof
small UAV platforms. This paper discusses the applicability of fuel cellbased propulsion in the next
phaseofUAVcommercialization;particularlyinplatformswithagrosstakeoffweight(GTOW)of325
kilograms.

1
https://www.fcnl.org/updates/understandingdrones43
2
http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2016/08/29/faadronerule/89541546/
3
http://www.uasmagazine.com/articles/1573/uasnumbersofthefuture

AdvancedPropulsionforSmallUnmannedAerialVehicles 2

2 CommercialUsesofUAVs
UAVsareversatiletoolsthatcanbeusedinarangeofsurveyingandmonitoringapplications.Todate,
businesseshaveprimarilyusedUAVslargelytocollectvideoandphotographs,buttherearemanyother
applications of UAV technology that are poised to save commercial operations time and money while
alsoenhancingsafetyandsecurity.

HereishowsomebusinessesareusingUAVsandhowtheymightusethetechnologyinthefuture:

InfrastructureMonitoring
UAVscansurveyvastswathesofcriticalinfrastructuretoassessthesoundnessofpower
transmissionlines,hydroelectricdams,railroadtracks,miningoperations,seaportoperations,
oilandgaspipelinesandplatformsfromtheair.EngineeringfirmsuseUAVstomapoutfuture
infrastructureprojects.

Agriculture
UAVscanbeusedtotakeinventoryofcropsandidentifyfailingcropsorequipment,aswellas
beequippedtospraypesticides,fertilizersorwateroncrops.Unmannedaircraftavoidexposing
pilotstotoxicpesticidesandtheincreasedriskofinjuryduetolowaltitudeflyingwhere
collisionsoccurwithgreaterfrequency.

EnvironmentalMonitoringandConservation
UAVscanoperatediscretely,monitoringwildlifepopulationsandtheirhabitatforhealthand
migrationhabitswithoutdisturbance.UAVsequippedwithnightvisionarealsousedtomonitor
wildfiresandtrackandinterceptpoachers.

RealEstate
Dronesareusedtorecordandstreamhighdefinitionvideoforaerialflyoverviewsof
propertiesforsaleorupfordevelopment.

Delivery
DoortodoordeliverybydronesisamuchtalkedaboutfutureapplicationforUAVs.Thisis
especiallyusefulinregionswithpoorroadinfrastructure,makingtravelbygroundonerous.

WirelessInternetAccess
Largecorporationshavepublicizedeffortstobringinternetaccesstothedevelopingworldwith
thehelpofUAVsconductinglongduration,highaltitudeflightsovercommunities.

Fortheseapplications,thepayload(i.e.thermalimagingequipment)canbeheavy,andgustywinds,
hillyterrainorotherunfavorableenvironmentalconditionscanmaketheUAVsdifficulttooperate.
Propulsionsystemsprovidingsufficientpower,rangeandmaneuverabilityareessential.

AdvancedPropulsionforSmallUnmannedAerialVehicles 3

3 ChallengeswithIncumbentTechnologies
3.1 BatteryPropulsion
Many small UAVs, and nearly all with a GTOW of under 10 kilograms, are based on lithium battery
propulsion.Thisincludesbothmultirotorandhandlaunched,fixedwingplatforms.Theattractiveness
of batteries in these platforms is based on the simplicity of the propulsion, which requires minimal
power system knowledge to implement. In addition, systems integrators have turned to electric
propulsionforUAVsforanumberofotherbenefitstotheplatform:
100%throttleflexibility,includingmidairstartstopcapability
Lowobservabilitynoiseandthermalsignature
Payloadflexibilityandtheabilitytodivertpowerfromthedrivetraintothepayload
Flexibilityinpropellerandmotorcombinationstoimproveefficiency
Zeroemissionoperation

Whilethesebatterybasedsystemsaresufficientformanyconsumerhobbyistapplications,theenergy
densityofbatterieslimitstheplatformsrangeandenduranceforcommercialuses.Batterytechnology
is receiving considerable attention with steady improvements in capacity, but even optimistic
projections for capacity will not meet many of the UAV use cases contemplated. Additionally, as has
been highlighted by several recent events, the quest for improved battery energy density often
sacrificessomelevelofstabilityand,ultimately,safety.Fromasustainabilityperspective,whenbatteries
arenotproperlydisposedofthetoxicchemicalswithincanleachintothesurroundingenvironment

3.1.1 FuelCellsvs.Batteries
Fuel cells provide an attractive alternative to the batterypowered unmanned aerial vehicle as they
maintain the simplicity and benefits of an allelectric architecture while taking advantage of highly
energydensefuels.Tocomparefuelcellandbatterybasedsystemsitisimportanttounderstandthe
fundamental differences in the two technologies (Table 1). A fuel cell resembles a battery in that it
provides direct electrical current. However, unlike a battery, the fuel cell utilizes separate fuel
(hydrogen) and oxidant (air) streams that are not contained in a discrete case. This makes a fuel cell
systeminherentlysaferthanadvancedhighenergydensitybatterytechnologies.Thefuelcellitselfisa
waytoconvertthefuelandoxidantbutdoesnotstoreanyenergy.Ingeneral,becauseairisusedasthe
oxidant and not stored with the fuel, the energy content of the fuel system well exceeds traditional
batterysystems.

Similarities Differences
Bothdirectlygenerateelectricitythrough Abatterystoresenergy,whileafuelcell
electrochemicalreactions generatesenergyondemand
Bothhaveananodeandacathodeincontact Afuelcelldoesnotneedtoberecharged;itis
withanelectrolyte refueledbyhydrogenandambientair
Withboth,individuallowvoltageDCcellsare Inafuelcell,theanodeandcathodegasses
combinedinseriestoattainhighervoltageand (hydrogenandair)arekeptseparate;whilein
power abatterytheyareincloseproximitywhichcan
beasafetyissue
Table1:Comparisonoffuelcellstobatteries

AdvancedPropulsionforSmallUnmannedAerialVehicles 4

Theadventoffuelcellbasedpropulsionallowsforthebenefitsofelectricpropulsionwhilemaintaining
enhancedrangeonmostsmallUAVplatforms.Fuelcellpowersystemstypicallywillsurpassbatteriesin
storedenergyifthemissiondurationislongenoughtoamortizethefuelcellsystem.Toincreasethe
enduranceofabatterypoweredUAV,additionalbatteriesareadded,growingtheoverallpowersystem
massatarapidrate.Incomparison,toaddadditionalendurancetoafuelcellpoweredsystem,onlya
largerhydrogenfueltankisinstalled,addingruntimewithrelativelyminimaladdedmass(Figure1).

SYSTEMMASS
RUNTIME BatteryPowerSystem FuelCellSystem

xhours H2



H2

8xhours

Fuelcellsystemmassremainsstatic,
Batterysystemmassincreasesata andonlyfuelstorageincreasesto
rapidratetoaddruntime addruntime
Figure1:Impactofendurancedemandsonpowersystemmass

3.1.2 CaseStudyIonTiger
Asanillustrativeexample,ProtonexhascollaboratedwiththeNavalResearchLaboratory(NRL)overthe
past ten years to demonstrate the utility of fuel cellbased propulsion systems on a number of UAV
platforms.Eachoftheseplatformswascustomdesignedaroundthefuelcellpropulsionsystemandthe
fuel storage subsystem, optimizing the outcome. The Ion Tiger UAV demonstrates the endurance
advantagesofferedbyhydrogenpoweredfuelcellsystems.TheIonTigerisa16kilogramsystemwitha
3meterwingspandesignedaroundacompositehydrogentank(300bar).Ithasthecapabilitytocarrya
2.2kilogrampayload.Whenfuelwasstoredonboardthevehicleascompressedgaseoushydrogen,the
IonTigerplatformdemonstrated26hoursofflight.Forcomparison,anequivalentweightofbatteries
would provide an endurance of approximately 4 hours. Separately, the Ion Tiger was outfitted with a
liquidhydrogenstoragesubsystemanddemonstrated48hoursofflighttime(Figure2).

AdvancedPropulsionforSmallUnmannedAerialVehicles 5

IonTigerUAV:
Enduranceof16kgSystemWithVaryingPowerSystems

Battery

GaseousHydrogen

LiquidHydrogen

0 10 20 30 40 50
Runtime(hours)

Figure2:IonTigerUAV

Based on current improvements in fuel storage and the efficiency of the fuel cell, this platform could
stayaloftfor3to4daysbasedonliquidhydrogen.Detailsregardingthisprojecthavebeenpublishedin
papers entitled, Hydrogen Fuel Cell Propulsion for Long Endurance Small UAVs4 and Projecting the
Impact of Aircraft Design Decision on the Performance of a Fuel Cell Power and Energy System in
UnmannedAircraftSystems.5

3.2 SmallInternalCombustionEnginePropulsion
UAV platforms traditionally powered by small internal combustion engines (ICEs) have different
advantagesthanthosepoweredbybatteries.Giventhehighenergydensityofliquidhydrocarbons,ICE
powered UAVs have very good endurance versus batterypowered vehicles. That said, small engines
have numerous deficiencies even after considerable investments in improving reliability and
predictability.Inoperation,smallenginesarenoisyandpollutingwithahighthermalsignature,making
them less suitable for applications where stealth is valued, such as environmental monitoring and
conservation.Thesmallengineshaveanarrowbandoffuelefficientoperationandpoorloadfollowing
capabilities,withanelectricalternatorsizedtospecificpowerandpayloadrequirements.

3.2.1 FuelCellsvs.ICE
In addition to the advantages provided by electric propulsion enumerated above, systems integrators
arealsoattractedtofuelcellsasareplacementtoICEsystemsforthefollowingadvantages:

SignificantimprovementintheexpectedMTBF(meantimebetweenfailures),uptofivetimes
oftraditionalsmallenginesystems
Altitudeflexibility;unliketraditionalICEs,fuelcellshavepositivecontroloftheairflowsopower
deratingwithaltitudecanbeeffectivelymanagedwithoutgrosslyoversizingthepropulsion
system
Extremelylowthermal,acousticandvibrationsignatures
Flexibleapplicationofonaircraftpower

4
https://www.nrl.navy.mil/lasr/content/hydrogenfuelcellpropulsionlongendurancesmalluavs
5
http://papers.sae.org/2012012178/

AdvancedPropulsionforSmallUnmannedAerialVehicles 6

Significantreductioninpollutantsemittedduringoperation(watervaporbeingtheonlyexhaust
inpurehydrogensystems)

Thefollowingtableprovidesacomparisonofthetwotechnologies(Table2).

ATTRIBUTE FUELCELL ICE


LowMTBF +
Payloadflexibility +
Altitudeflexibility +
Loadfollowingcapability +
Lownoise,vibrationandthermalsignature +
Lowenvironmentalemissions +

Endurance + +
Fuelefficiency +
Table2:Comparisonoffuelcellstointernalcombustionengines

3.2.2 CaseStudyScanEagle
InconjunctionwithInsitu,Protonexdesignedahybrid
fuel cell propulsion module to augment propulsion
system offerings for the ScanEagle unmanned aerial
system (Figure 3). The propulsion module fits within
the existing airframe without modification, so it is
compatible with the considerable number of
ScanEagle systems in the field. Flight testing is
planned for the fuel cellbased ScanEagle at Insitus
testfacilitiestodemonstratemanyoftheattributesof
electricpropulsionlistedabove.


Figure3:BoeingInsituScanEagle

AdvancedPropulsionforSmallUnmannedAerialVehicles 7

3.3 OtherApproaches
MuchattentionhasbeendrawntosolarbatterydrivenUAVs,especiallyinthequestforflightdurations
of weeks or months. In particular, the potential for UAVs to augment satellitebased systems is
particularly attractive but requires extensive flight times to become an economic reality. Solarbased
systems are a good solution for platforms that can fly consistently above cloud cover but will have
limited practical utility for lower flying craft. 6 Solar powered UAVs still require an energy storage
component to keep aloft when the sun is not shining. Batteries are the simplest solution, but as the
total energy stored increases beyond approximately 100kilowatt hours, a fuel cell/electrolyzer based
system can decrease weight and improve the platform performance. A fuel cell/electrolyzer system
storestheexcesselectricityfromsolarviawaterelectrolysistohydrogenandoxygen.Thesegassescan
be compressed and stored in composite pressure vessels. When the solar subsystem is not providing
enoughenergy,thehydrogenandoxygenarefedintothefuelcell.

4 FuelCellPoweredUAVDesignConsiderations
Historically allelectric propulsion meant batterybased energy storage, with a significant reduction in
range and endurance over enginebased systems. The advent of fuel cell propulsion allows for the
benefits of electric propulsion while maintaining sufficient range on most small UAV platforms. That
said,therearecertainfactorstoconsiderwhendesigningafuelcellpoweredUAV.

4.1 SizeMatters
Fuel cell propulsion systems are not
applicable to all UAV platforms or
applications. At present, the power
density of traditional engines cannot
be rivaled by fuel cell systems. As
such, the use of fuel cells in larger
UAVs (group IV, >600kg) is more
exploratory and focused on emissions
reduction at present. Given the
amount of active investment in fuel
celltechnology,thereisnodoubtthat
fuel cells will gain additional markets
as these systems are transitioned to
high volume manufacturing. Initial
experiments with small manned
aircraft are a hint to what lies ahead
forfuelcellbasedpropulsion.7
Figure4:Systemweightfraction

6
https://www.yahoo.com/tech/historicsolarimpulseteamplanningdrone174129042.html
7
https://airbusdefenceandspace.com/ourportfolio/militaryaircraft/uav/zephyr/

AdvancedPropulsionforSmallUnmannedAerialVehicles 8

herendofthescale,Proto
Attheoth onexhaslookkedextensiveelyattheappplicabilityofffuelcellpropu
ulsion
forsmallq
quadcoptersandotherverticaltakeofffandlift(VTOOL)UAVs.Theesignificantp powerrequireedfor
maneuveringandlack oftraditionaalliftsurfacessfavorsbatteeriesforsmaallercraftanddshortermissions.
Mosthob bbyactivities aredominatedbybatteriiesandwoul dshownom materialimpro ovementwithfuel
dpropulsion. Commercial missionsbassedonsmall VTOLUAVso
cellbased ofunderfive kilogramsarrenot
goodcand didatesforfu
uelcellsgiventhelimitedw
weightdedicaatedtoenerggystorage(Figgure4).

LargerVTOLcraft,overfivekilogram
ms,couldhavvesignificant enduranceimmprovementssbasedonfuelcell
propulsion, but care must be taken
t to prrovide the ppower required for full maneuveraability.
Underpow wered system
ms can be demonstrated under
u controolled conditio of limited utility in
ons, but are o
realworld
dapplicationss.

Range and endurance for VTOL UA AVs will always be shorte r than fixed wing aircraftt of similar GTOW.
Transition
ning fixed wing aircraft with VTOL capabilities
c ccan be signifficantly imprroved by fueel cell
propulsion.Infact,fue
elcellpropulssionmaymakkeapplicationnslikepackaggedeliveryan ndremotemedical
supportppossiblegiventhecombinaationofrequirementsincluudingrange,payloadcapaability,andVTTOL.

4.2 Hyybridization
n
OOftenthebeestpropulsion nsolutioninccludes
bboth fuel cells and batteries with
aappropriate power manageement
eelectronics.G Generally,battterieshaveb better
ppowerdensitty(powerperrunitweight))than
ffuel cells. In contrast, fuel cell sysstems
ttypicallyprovvidehigheren nergydensityythan
bbatteries, asssuming lon ng enough flight
dduration. Th he attributess of both these
ssystems can n be combined in a h hybrid
ppropulsionsyystemtogoo odeffect,althhough
iit does increease the com mplexity (Figure 5).
TThe powerr managem ment electrronics
mmonitors thee battery staate of chargee and
Figure5:En
nergymanagem
mentscheme
tthe fuel cell output relattive to the veehicle
aand payload d requiremen nts. In periods of
highpowe erdemand,ppowerissupp pliedbothby thefuelcell andthebatttery.Inperiod dsoflowdem mand,
some of the echarge the battery. Oncce the batteryy is fully chaarged, the fueel cell
t fuel cell power will re
systemcaanbedirectlyoutputtothe evehicleload
d.

Takefore
examplesmalllhandlaunchedUAVslike etheLockheeedMartinDeesertHawk.Thefuelcellsyystem
provides powerupto twotimesth hecruisepowwerrequired..Anyaddition nalpowerrequiredispro ovided
bythebatttery.Thisisespeciallyuse efulfortakeo
offwhereaddditionalpoweermakeshand dlaunchingeeasier.
Hybridizattion can also
o be useful in
n managing diverse
d paylooad power reequirements iincluding payyloads
thatmighttraditionallyyoverwhelmotherpowerrsources,succhasactiveraadar.

AdvancedPropulsionforrSmallUnmann
nedAerialVeh
hicles 9

4.3 FuelingOptions
Fuel cell systems consume hydrogen fuel. Hydrogen can be produced in large central production
plantsandtransportedtothepointofenduseandstoreduntiluse.Liquidhydrogenisthemostcost
effective form of hydrogen to transport. Hydrogen may also be produced in smaller distributed
productionfacilities,verynearoratthepointofenduse.HydrogenrequiredtooperatetheUAVcould
be generated onsite and ondemand using available water and a portable electrolyzer driven by a
groundbased generator; by this approach, the system is multifuel capable, including JP8, a type of
diesel.

Various means for storing the hydrogen fuel onboard the UAV have been evaluated. Compressed
hydrogenstoragesystemshavebeendemonstratedinhundredsofprototypefuelcellvehiclesandare
availablecommerciallyatlowproductionvolumes.Storageofhydrogenasagastypicallyrequireshigh
pressure carboncomposite tanks (350700 bar [5,00010,000 psi] tank pressure). Storing liquid
hydrogen in tanks takes special handling and materials to contain and keep the fuel cool, to prevent
wasteviaboiloff.

One convenient way to store hydrogen for smaller UAV platforms is based on chemical hydride
cartridges.Ingeneral,achemicalhydridecanstorehydrogenatlowpressurewithminimalpackaging
that can be liberated as the fuel cell consumes the hydrogen. Typically these systems run at low
pressures,sotheweightofacompressedhydrogenstoragetankisnotnecessary.Onedrawbackisthe
addedcostandcomplexityofthefuelingsubsystemthatisrequiredtoliberatethehydrogen.

Figure7:Sodiumborohydridecartridges(1350
watthours)

Figure6:Sodiumborohydridesystemflowdiagram

Protonex has worked extensively with the chemical hydride, sodium borohydride, which has a large
hydrogencontent,isreadilyavailableandcosteffective.Thechemicalhydrideisstoredinawaterbased
solution that is nonflammable. By pumping the sodium borohydride solution over a catalyst bed, the
hydrogen is liberated as needed by the fuel cell system (Figure ). This system is completely load
following and can be ramped from no hydrogen production to full output in 35 seconds. Similarly,
hydrogenproductioncanbeidledinstantlywithoutlossofhydrogen.SeeTable3foracomparisonof
hydrogenstoragemethods.

AdvancedPropulsionforSmallUnmannedAerialVehicles 10

Energy
H2Mass SpecificEnergy* H2Density*
H2StorageMethod Density*
Percentage*(%) (Wh/g) (g/L)
(Wh/L)
CompressedGas
100 20 2339 450770
(5,00010,000psia,25C)
CryogenicLiquid
100 20 64 1270
(50psia,Tsat=248C)
AqueousSodiumBorohydride
4.06.4 0.81.3 4164 8101270
(15psia,25C)
*Estimatesdonotincludethemassandvolumeoftank/containmentstructure

Table3:ComparisonofHydrogenStorageMethods

The chemical hydride system is packaged as a cartridge that can be installed prior to flight (Figure ).
Once primed on the ground, the system interfaces with the fuel cell to provide hydrogen as needed.
Oncecompletedthecartridgescanbediscardedorreturnedforremanufacturing.

AdvancedPropulsionforSmallUnmannedAerialVehicles 11

5 PatthForwarrdforFue
elCellBaasedProp
pulsion
5.1 Fue
elCellUAV
VDemonstrrations
Theattrib
butesoffuelccellbasedpropulsionhavebeendemoonstratedinaavarietyofU UAVplatformss,and
nology is rapidly being maatured for commercial an d military ap
the techn pplications. Syystems integrrators
interested
dinextended ddurationand d/orreliabilittyimprovemeentsovertrad ditionalpropu ulsionsystemmhave
additionalchoices.Afftertenyearssofpioneerin ngworkonfuuelcellbased dpropulsion systems,Protonex
hasextensiveexperien nceintegratinngthetechnologyintoavaarietyofallelectricsmallU UAVs(Table4 4).

FuelCell
UnmannedS
U ystem Endurance Wei ght FuelType
Pow
wer

NRLIonT
Tiger 26h
hours 116kg Pressurizedhydrrogen 5
550W
NRLIonT
Tiger 48h
hours 116kg Liquidhydrrogen 5
550W
NRLXFCSubmarineLLaunch 7h
hours 9kg Preessurizedhydrrogen 5
550W
Lockheed
dMartinDesertHawkEER
R 68h
hours 66.8kg Chemicalhyydride 3
350W
InsituSca
anEagle 410h
hours 222kg Prressurizedorliquid 1,2
200W
hydrrogen

Table4:Launch
T hedUAVplatform
ms

Figurre6:NRLXFCSu
ubmarineLauncch(left)andLockheedMartinD
DesertHawkEER
R(right)

AdvancedPropulsionforrSmallUnmann
nedAerialVeh
hicles 12

5.2 FuelCellUAVDevelopment
Manufacturers eager to accelerate the introduction of a fuel cell powered UAV to the marketplace
should consider a PEM fuel cell propulsion module developed by Protonex (Figure 7). The scalable
moduleincludesthefuelcellstackandkeybalanceofplantcomponentsthatmakeforstraightforward
integration into the UAV. Alternatively, the module can serve as a starting point for product
customization.Thehighlevelprojectplanbelowoutlinesthephasesofatypicalintegrationproject:

Phase0TechnologyEvaluation:Protonex
engineershavedevelopedamethodologyto
estimatetheweightfractionrequiredtobe
devotedtothepowersystembasedoncommon
conceptualdesigninputs,therebyallowingaircraft
designerstodeterminethesuitabilityofutilizinga
fuelcellsystemearlyinthedesignprocess.

Phase1AircraftIntegration:Thisphasefocuses
ontheintegrationoftheProtonexfuelcellsystem
intoanallelectricUAV.Developmentandtesting
ofthesystemandsystemcomponentswillvalidate
usageprofiles,systemdesign,andoperating
strategies.
Figure7:ProtonexPEMfuelcellpropulsionmodule
Phase2IntegratedSystemGroundTesting:The
objectiveofthisphaseistodemonstrateoverallsystemperformanceontheground.An
extensivetestprogramwillevaluatesystemperformanceoverthefullrangeofloadconditions
expectedinflight.

Phase3IntegratedSystemFlightTesting:Inthisphase,thesystemdesignisoptimizedbased
onPhase2feedback.AfullyoperationalUAVwillundergomultipletesteventsataclosedflight
testfacilitytodemonstratethecapabilityofthesystem.

Phase4PilotDeployment:Inthisphase,thesystemdesignisoptimizedbasedonPhase3
testingfeedback.Prototypesystemsaredeliveredfortestingatacustomersitetovalidatethe
designunderrealworldconditions.

Phase5CommercialDeployment:Thisphaseincludesscaleupofproductionanddeliveryto
abroadcustomerbaseatvolume.

Throughthelifeoftheprogram,fromconceptuntildeliveryofthefullyintegratedandoperationalUAV,
Protonexs highly skilled engineering team supports the UAV manufacturer in the acceleration of fuel
cell product development and deployment efforts. As experts in portable power solutions, Protonex
understands the needs of unmanned systems when it comes to power. To learn more about what
ProtonexcandotokeepUAVsinflightlonger,contactustodayatwww.protonex.com.

AdvancedPropulsionforSmallUnmannedAerialVehicles 13

6 AboutBallardPowerSystems
BallardPowerSystemsisrecognizedasaworldleaderinthedesign,developmentandmanufactureof
clean energy fuel cell products. Ballard is located in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada, where the
companyoperatesafullyequippedR&D,engineeringandtestfacility,aswellasahighvolumefuelcell
manufacturing facility. Ballards proprietary technology which draws on intellectual property from our
patent portfolio together with our extensive experience and knowhow in key areas of fuel cell stack
operation,systemintegration,andfuelprocessing.

There are approximately 450 employees at Ballard with half made up of Ph.D.s, engineers, scientists,
and technologists focused on developing fuel cell products primarily for motive applications and
providing engineering services to key customers and markets. Ballard also has sales, R&D and
manufacturingfacilitiesintheUnitedStatesandDenmark.

TolearnmoreaboutBallard,pleasevisitwww.ballard.com.

7 AboutProtonexTechnologyCorporation
Protonex Technology Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Ballard, is a leading designer and
manufacturer of advanced power management products and portable fuel cell solutions. Protonex
develops, tests, and manufactures portable power management products in Southborough,
Massachusetts.Protonexhascommercializedanddeployedseveralproductsdesignedforendusersin
militaryandcommercialmarketsthatarecurrentlyunderservedbybatteriesandsmallgeneratorsand
has received development programs from U.S. military and U.S. government organizations. Recently,
Protonexs family of fuel cell propulsion systems were designated as EAR99 (Export Administration
Regulations99)compliantbytheU.S.DepartmentofCommerce,creatingapathforcommercialexport
anddeploymentinavarietyofcivilianunmannedvehicleapplications.

FormoreinformationaboutProtonexpowermanagers,chargersandfuelcellspleasevisit
www.protonex.com.

8 Patents
ProtonexproductsareprotectedbypatentsintheU.S.andelsewhere.Toviewthelistofthesepatents,
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AdvancedPropulsionforSmallUnmannedAerialVehicles 14