A 44-pound multi-rotor Project Rachel UAS powered by an Intelligent Energy hydrogen fuel cells has achieved 70 minutes of continuous flight while carrying an 11-pound payload. This is a substantial improvement over the aircraft's 12-minute endurance when using lithium batteries.
Project Rachel is supported by Innovate UK and led by venture engineering company Productiv on behalf of the UK UAV filming specialist Batcam. The fuel cell was powered by a six-liter cylinder containing hydrogen gas compressed to 300 bar. Batcam plans to carry out real-world, end-user trials of the aircraft later this year.
Intelligent Energy CEO David Woolhouse called fuel cells “a game-changer for the commercial UAV market. The advantages of fuel cells over batteries for our customers are clear: fast refuel, no vibration, quiet operation, zero emission at point of use, and three times more flight time than batteries.”
According to Productiv’s Jonathan Reed, “The effectiveness of UAVs is limited by their flight time and payload capacity. This opens up new opportunities for commercial UAV operators. Hydrogen power has huge potential here, and we anticipate a significant growth in the market for hydrogen-powered UAVs in the next few years.”