Friday, 09 November 2018 10:41

Singapore firm launches hydrogen fuel cell-powered drone

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Singapore firm launches hydrogen fuel cell-powered drone Courtesy HES Energy Systems

Singapore-based hydrogen fuel cell vendor HES Energy Systems has launched a new drone known as HYCOPTER that can stay in the air for 3.5 hours, instead of the usual 20-30 minutes which drones powered by lithium batteries could achieve.

A statement from the company said the multi-rotor drone was designed to be used in industrial maintenance inspections.

HES, which claims to have produced the lightest and most compact fuel cell systems, said it had merged its core technologies with a special multi-rotor design to extend flight durations.

The HYCOPTER Was designed in Austin, Texas, where HES is setting up a local production base.

The new drone has a 140-gramme pressure regulator which can reduce the hydrogen pressure from 350 bar to 0.5 bar. It has HES fuel cell stacks that can generate more than 1W per gramme.

A recharge of the drone takes a few minutes and uses bottled industrial-grade hydrogen from local suppliers.

The company said versions of the drone would next appear in transitional wing vertical take-off and landing applications.

The same core technology would also be scaled up to power manned electric aviation in collaboration with other aerospace firms.

In response to queries, an HES Energy Systems spokesman told iTWire that the drones were being initially sold at a promotional price of US$39,000 each and would be ready for delivery in four months.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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