Canadian-French Initiative to Develop Fuel Cells for Long Endurance Drones

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The H2Quad 400 electrically powered multirotor drone flew for more than two hours on record setting flight. Photo: EnergyOrr

Canadian fuel-cell developer EnergyOr Technologies Inc. has entered a Joint Development Agreement (JDA) with the French Air Force’s Centre d’ Expertise Aérienne Militaire (CEAM), to develop and optimize energy sources for long endurance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) platforms powered by EnergyOr’s Polymer Electrolyte Membrane (PEM) fuel cell system technology.

“The extended flight hours allow a novel approach to missions and, even more importantly, open the door to missions that were previously inconceivable.” said ADC Jan, project leader from CEAM. He noted that “The total flight distance capability for a miniature drone has now reached 600 km – this has never been seen before.”

Small, electrical UAVs are a rapidly growing segment of the unmanned aircraft market and are especially suited to military
applications. Battery powered UAVs have very limited flight times due to the relatively low specific energy (Watt-hours/kg)
of existing rechargeable battery technologies, and that’s where new fuel cells such as Energy Orr’s PEM cells come to place.

“This JDA further reinforces EnergyOr’s leadership position in the field of long endurance UAV fuel cell systems.” EnergyOr’s CEO, Michel Bitton, stated, adding “Our fuel cell technology is trusted for applications in real-world operating environments.”

In december 2015 EnergyOr demonstrated the world’s longest multirotor drone flight in real-world operating conditions flying its H2Quad 400 multirotor drone for more than two hours, while recording 4K video, using a 3-axis stabilizing gimbal to control the camera. “The H2Quad 400 performed beyond our expectations and the success of this demonstration not only gives confidence to move forward with commercialization, but to also develop larger multirotor platforms with even greater payload capacity.” Bitton commented.