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Horizon launches first commercial hydrogen fuel cell system for unmanned aircraft

Singapore-based Horizon Energy Systems has commenced commercial sales of its new Aeropak™ hydrogen fuel cell power system, with shipments to several leading manufacturers of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The PEM fuel cell unit is designed to triple flight durations compared with current battery-operated mini-UAVs.

Horizon Energy Systems has made a significant leap forward by turning its ultralight PEM fuel cell system technologies into a practical and commercial product ready for use by the UAV market. Battery-powered electric motors only allow mini-UAVs to stay airborne for an hour or two, but Horizon’s new Aeropak fuel cell power technology enables the same mini-UAVs to stay airborne for 8–10 h at a time, without increasing takeoff weight.

‘The Aeropak is no longer a proof of concept, a benchtop demonstrator, or a one-off working prototype,’ emphasizes Gareth Tang, Managing Director of Horizon Energy Systems. ‘It is a field-tested airborne system with a high degree of reliability, and we are already taking orders from a number of world-leading UAV market participants.’

The Aeropak integrates Horizon’s hydrogen PEM fuel cell technology with safe, easy to use, dry-fuel chemical hydride cartridges. Storing 900 Wh of usable electrical energy and weighing just 2 kg (4.4 lb), the all-inclusive Aeropak is simple, reliable, and can be fully operational within minutes.

Prior to completion of the commercial Aeropak, Horizon demonstrated its capabilities through a series of pioneering fuel cell flights, which included HyFish, a 1 kW Horizon fuel cell powered jetwing UAV integrated by the DLR German Aerospace Center, and the Pterosoar UAV, which set a distance world record in 2007.

Horizon will officially unveil the commercial Aeropak at the AUVSI trade show, taking place August 24–27 in Denver, Colorado.

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Comments

Lawrence Weisdorn said

12 August 2010
It won't be long before they start building these zero emission manned aircraft.

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