Honeywell Collaborates with DoE for Drone Hydrogen Fuel Project
- 20-Sep-2023 7:01 PM
- Journalist: Patrick Knight
Aerospace experts from the U.S. conglomerate Honeywell are joining forces with a division of the Department of Energy to develop a compact hydrogen fuel storage system specifically designed for long-haul drone applications.
Honeywell has announced its partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to create a prototype of a cartridge-based storage device intended for use in hydrogen systems on drones. This year-long collaboration aims to develop clean and sustainable alternatives to the limited-capacity lithium batteries used in drones deployed for shorter enterprise or public missions. Furthermore, it targets replacing the hybrid or fossil-fuel-powered drones used in longer-distance or -duration missions.
In addition to advancing the core technology involved, Honeywell will collaborate with NREL on testing, prototyping, evaluation, supply chain, and the eventual commercialization aspects of this drone hydrogen fuel concept, building on their prior collaborations. The immediate objective is to qualify this innovation for the Fuel Additives for Solid Hydrogen (FLASH) Carriers in Electric Aviation project—a U.S. government initiative that supports technologies capable of efficiently storing and converting hydrogen into electrified power for aircraft.
Once operational, these systems will not only provide significantly longer drone flight durations compared to lithium batteries but will match the capabilities of fossil fuels, all without emitting harmful pollutants.
Katherine Hurst, a senior scientist and group manager at NREL, views the partnership with Honeywell as an ideal way to advance hydrogen fuel power for aviation by addressing the specific flight requirements of long-haul drones.
In their joint efforts toward qualifying FLASH technology, Honeywell and NREL experts will continue developing a unique storage concept based on a solid material that can rapidly release hydrogen gas for use by a fuel cell. This material, due to its high hydrogen capacity, occupies less volume than alternative methods and can operate at lower temperatures, typically around 100°C. It is also considered adaptable for a broader range of drone and aviation applications.
Dave Shilliday, Vice President and General Manager of Honeywell Aerospace's Urban Air Mobility and Uncrewed Aerial Systems Division, highlights the importance of the partnership. He states that this partnership with NREL serves as the latest demonstration of Honeywell's commitment to advancing sustainable aviation. Shilliday further notes that hydrogen can provide substantial benefits for electric vertical take-off and landing systems, extending their endurance and range. He also mentions that it has the potential to significantly broaden the capabilities of UAVs, overcoming the constraints associated with battery-electric power systems.