Hydrogen-powered drones by Robodex in Japan

2022-01-31

Drones, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles / UAVs, are expected to be applied to wide range of applications. Some examples can be shown as below.

Aerial photography for journalism and film
Express shipping and delivery
Gathering information or supplying essentials for disaster management
Thermal sensor drones for search and rescue operations
Geographic mapping of inaccessible terrain and locations
Building safety inspections
Precision crop monitoring
Unmanned cargo transport
Law enforcement and border control surveillance
Storm tracking and forecasting hurricanes and tornadoes

Referenced by Drone technology uses and applications for commercial, industrial and military drones in 2021 and the future

drone by fuel cell system with composite hydrogen tanks is now focused.

Photographed by Darrel Und

One of the limitation of drone is “Flyable time”. Many of drones operated by Li batteries can fly basically 30 miniutes maximum. This limit narrows range use so far.

Japanese start-up company, Robodex (Yokohama, Kanagawa), is trying to solve this issue by applying fuel cell systems with composite cylinders.

 

Summary of Robodex drones

You can find the page of Robodex as shown belows (in Japanese only).

http://www.robodex.net/

The drones test flight can be reviewd in a video.

Flight available time is maximum 1 hour 20 minutes, three times longer than conventional battery type one.

Wind speed during test flight was 10m/sec, but the drone seemed to be stable.

Fuel cell power system of Intelligent Energy (Leicestershire, UK) was applied. They sell light weight IE-Soar(TM) modules, maximum continuous power of 650 to 2400 W each, targetting for UAVs. Their systems are based on polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cells.

IE-Solar(TM) summary can be reviewed as shown blow.

Product line-up for UAVs can be seen on the page blow.

Market leading fuel cell power for UAVs. IE-SoarTM modules are the lightest available in the world.

Intelligent Energy can also supply cylinders, regulator, and portable load unit (for refresh). Portable load unit sumary can be also reviewed.

 

Composite cylinders for hydrogen-powered drones

Robodex applied composite cylinders supplied by Teijin. This cylinders are composed of alminum liner and Carbon/Glass fiber reinforced composites (FRPs).

Products summary page of cylinders (ULTRESSA(R)) can be reviewed. The main features are lightweight/safety / corrosion resistance by applying CFRP/GFRP with epoxy resin matrix systems and seamless aluminum alloy liner, and up to 70MPa pressure is available.

Volume range is from 4.7 to 9.1 litters, 457 to 539 mm length, and 139 to 182 mm diameters, but weight of cylinders ranges 2.9 to 5.4 kg maximum.

 

 

Hydrogen-powered drones have a potential to be applied in wide range of industries in the future.

And composite materials would be one of key materials as high-pressure hydrogen cylinders and structures for drones.

 

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