Hydrogen to increase the flight range of drones

Researchers from the Public University of Navarra (Pamplona) and the Foundation for the Development of New Hydrogen Technologies of Aragon (Huesca) have joined forces to launch a hydrogen fuel cell that will allow a drone range of more than two hours.

Researchers from the Public University of Navarre are actively collaborating with the company FUVEX, a company in which SODENA has a stake and whose main objective is to manufacture drones that can replace operations that are currently carried out with helicopters. Currently, drones weighing less than 5 kg manufactured by FUVEX can reach a flight time of 80 minutes.

Within the framework of the DOCTOR PV project for the analysis of photovoltaic panels, in which the companies Maetec, Pariver, Naturgy, Visiona and Iberdrola are involved, and as technology centres the CIRCE Foundation of Zaragoza, the University of Valladolid and the Public University of Navarre, the latter is working to increase the flight range of the drones by using hydrogen for the drone’s power plant.

Currently, the Public University of Navarra is developing a power plant that uses hydrogen as fuel. The system consists of a 650W fuel cell that allows for increased flight autonomy in approximately 60 minutes. In collaboration with the Hydrogen Foundation of Aragon, the fuel cell will produce the energy demanded by the drone from green hydrogen.

Within the framework of the European cooperation project ELY4OFF, funded by the Fuel Cells Hydrogen and Joint Undertaking (No. 700359), the Aragon Hydrogen Foundation has developed an installation to generate green hydrogen through electrolysis, a process by which, from water and electricity, produces hydrogen and oxygen separately. This production process, as well as its subsequent storage and use, only involves energy from renewable sources, in this case from a photovoltaic plant located on the Foundation’s own premises

To support the Universidad Pública de Navarra in the implementation of the drone, the Foundation has adapted its hydrogen refuelling station (HRS) to allow the recharging of the drone tank with renewable hydrogen. This HRS, inaugurated in 2010, is one of the service stations located in Spain and supplies green hydrogen, among others, to the vehicles of the H2PiyR project, co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund within the framework of the Interreg POCTEFA programme.





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