A drone able to carry out a long range flight of more than ten hours

Published 16 October 2007

South Korean researchrs build a UAV which uses hydrogen fuel cell to stay a loft for more than ten hours; drone relies on sodium borohydride rather than compressed hydrogen gas

Korean scientists of Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) have developed a hydrogen fuel cell-powered UAV able to carry out a long range flight of more than ten hours with only one charge of its hydrogen fuel cell. The group of researchers is led by Professor Kwon Se-jin and by Shim Hyun-chul from the KAIST’s Department of Aerospace Engineering.

Water can be separated into hydrogen and oxygen by using the electrical current. A fuel cell produces electricity through a chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen. Last year a joint research between the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory and the Georgia Insitute of Technology has developed a drone which uses compressed hydrogen gas to lengthen its flight times. According to Professor Kwon, the sodium borohydride, the liquid fuel used in the fuel cell, can produce more hydrogen than hydrogen gas and is also more convenient for commercialization. The hydrogen fuel cell produces about ten times more electricity than existing batteries.

The UAV measures 1.2 meter wide, 0.7 meter high, and weighs 2 kilogram, including the 750 gram fuel cell system.