Long Endurance Fuel Cell System for Small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
Agency / Branch:
DOD / USAF
For operational and logistic reasons, the warfighter requires longer flight duration hand-launched, Small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (SUAVs). PUMA, a 9-ft wingspan SUAV, designed and manufactured by AeroVironment (AV), has a flight duration of four hours on primary batteries, while Dragon Eye, another AV SUAV, with a 4-ft wingspan, has a flight duration of one hour on secondary batteries. Single use primary batteries are extremely expensive on a life-cycle basis, while, unfortunately, rechargeable ones aren't always used to their full potential. A viable alternative to batteries, that could provide higher gravimetric and volumetric energy density, and lower life cycle cost, is hydrogen fuel cells where a chemical hydride combines with water to generate the required hydrogen fuel on an as-needed basis. Our Phase I effort will investigate the feasibility of developing a high specific energy (>800 Wh/kg), integrated fuel cell/battery hybrid energy storage system with a chemical hydride as a source of the hydrogen fuel. We will conduct our design efforts specifically for an Air Force SUAV, such as the Raven or PUMA, but will keep other potential SUAVs in mind. AV, DOD's largest supplier of SUAVs, will work with an advanced developer of lightweight, compact fuel cell systems.
Small Business Information at Submission:
Director, Contracts & Legal Affairs
181 W. Huntington Drive, Suite 202 Monrovia, CA 91016
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