Long Endurance Fuel Cell System for Small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

Award Information
Agency:
Department of Defense
Branch
Air Force
Amount:
$741,896.00
Award Year:
2007
Program:
SBIR
Phase:
Phase II
Contract:
FA8650-07-C-2724
Agency Tracking Number:
F061-180-2666
Solicitation Year:
2006
Solicitation Topic Code:
AF06-180
Solicitation Number:
2006.1
Small Business Information
AEROVIRONMENT, INC.
181 W. Huntington Drive, Suite 202, Monrovia, CA, 91016
Hubzone Owned:
N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged:
N
Woman Owned:
N
Duns:
058024456
Principal Investigator:
Omourtag Velev
Principal Fuel Cell Engin
(626) 357-9983
velev@avinc.com
Business Contact:
Jerry Cleveland
Director, Contracts & Leg
(626) 357-9983
cleveland@avinc.com
Research Institution:
n/a
Abstract
The warfighter requires long flight duration, hand-launched, small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). Batteries are expensive and provide limited flight duration. A viable alternative to batteries, that could provide higher gravimetric and volumetric energy density, and lower life cycle cost, are hybrid battery/fuel cell systems with hydrogen stored as chemical hydride, which, when reacted with water, generates the required fuel as-needed. AeroVironment’s (AV’s) Phase I effort determined it would be feasible to develop an integrated fuel cell/battery hybrid energy storage system for the AV-designed and manufactured PUMA UAV, The 9-ft wingspan PUMA has a flight duration of three hours on rechargeable batteries, but will be able to fly for 6-8 hours with the fuel cell-based energy storage system. In phase I we worked with several fuel cell system developers and conducted a bench top demonstration of an integrated fuel cell/battery hybrid system using a Protonex fuel cell and hydrogen storage system. In Phase II, we will optimize and build a fuel cell-based energy storage system and conduct several tests to demonstrate achievable flight duration. We will also perform feasibility studies for adding advanced solar cells on the PUMA wings and integrating a similar energy storage system into the Raven UAV.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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