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U.S.Navy Funding Fuel Cell Propulsion Systems for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

Protonex Technology Corporation, a leading provider of advanced fuel cell power systems for portable, remote and mobile applications, today announced that it has received a $598,813 contract with the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) for advanced development of high power fuel cell systems for small unmanned air vehicles (UAVs). This new program builds upon Protonex’ portfolio of UAV power system initiatives.

Development work under this program will focus on increasing the power density of the company’s Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) UAV fuel cell system while simultaneously scaling up the power output of the system. Ultimately, the advanced system will be integrated into a small NRL plane. The resulting hydrogen fuel cell system is anticipated to provide up to 1.5 kW of power output (approximately equivalent to a 2hp engine) and double the existing system’s gravimetric power density. The increase in power will provide additional capability to the UAV platform including improving climbing, maneuverability,dash speed, as well as additional payload capability.

Protonex’ fuel cell power systems for small UAVs offer significant benefits over existing technologies including lower heat and noise signature compared to internal combustion engines while providing up to five times the energy density over today’s advanced batteries. These advantages enable a wide range of military applications and provide an opportunity to broaden mission capabilities for small UAVs.

“We are very fortunate to have the continued support and interest from the NRL and the Office of Naval Research,” commented Dr. Paul Osenar, Chief Technology Officer, Protonex. “The team is excited to have this opportunity to continue to optimize our core technology by increasing the net power of our fuel cell system while significantly improving the overall functionality of small UAVs.”

Source: Protonex

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