Hydrogen Fuel Cells May Turn Corner in Commercial Drone Use

Hydrogen Fuel Cells May Turn Corner in Commercial Drone Use image
December 17, 2015 | Source: By Nancy Owano, Tech Xplore

A fuel cell can keep drones in flight in hours, not minutes. The company behind the technology will show it at CES 2016. UK-based Intelligent Energy, an energy technology group, will showcase the fuel cell tech at January's CES in Las Vegas. They announced the prototype on Tuesday.

Adding their hydrogen fuel cell onto a typical battery results in extended flight times from around 20 minutes to several hours. The announcement described a hybrid fuel cell drone range extender, to be shown at the CES event. Attendees will view the impact which fuel cells can have on devices ranging from smartphones and tablets to drones.

As for drones, the announcement focused on drones as one of the most exciting new technologies but, for commercial use, facing hurdles because of batteries. For commercial use, they need to offer better flight times and range, said Julian Hughes of Intelligent Energy's consumer electronics division.

The company's business pitch: The release of its range extender platform carries the advantage of longer flight times coupled with quick re-fueling, in turn opening up a range of new commercial possibilities. Such as? Commercial applications standing to gain would include drones for inspection of offshore platforms, search and rescue, aerial photography, precision agriculture and parcel delivery.