A compact fuel cell power system recently introduced by Singapore based Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies offers up to four times the endurance capability of advanced lithium batteries currently in use. The lightweight fuel-cell power source called Aeropak was designed specifically for small UAVs. Storing 900Wh of usable electrical energy Aeropak weighs only 4.4 lbs (2kg). According to Horizon, the new power pack could extend the mission endurance of small, electrically powered UAVs by 300 percent. Horizon intends to offer the new fuel cell as a drop-in replacement for battery packs currently in service, eliminating costly airframe modifications. Aeropak uses refillable dry-fuel cartridges and is designed to sustain high impact and operation at altitude up to 22,000 feet (6500m). The company is planning to begin shipping evaluation models of Aeropak fuel cells this summer (2009).
The new fuel cell has been demonstrated has already been demonstrated in flight with the “Hyfish,” a 1kW fuel cell powered jet-wing UAS integrated by the German Air & Space Agency (DLR) and the “Pterosoar,” which set a new FAI world record for distance in 2007 with the support of NASA. The new AEROPAK will be displayed at the 2009 Paris Air Show (booth B075) alongside several UAS airframes powered by Horizon’s fuel cell power systems.