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.