Fuel cells take flight in the academic sphere
David Parekh, deputy director of GTRI, and his team created their experimental UAV from a heavily modified commercial fuel cell stack, a pump from a liquid-cooled computer and a hydrogen tank designed for a paintball gun. The fuselage measures 45 inches long, 9.75 inches wide and 7.25 inches in height while the wingspan is 22 feet across.
In June the researchers conducted four test flights in which the UAV traveled up to 3.7 meters above ground for up to a minute at a time. In November, they will present their project in New Orleans at the Society of Automotive Engineers' Power System Conference.
With funding coming in the form of grants from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) as well as internal funding from GTRI, the team will continue to with testing and refinements making the aircraft more reliable and robust. Parekh believes that building a UAV capable of trans-Atlantic flight will be possible within the next five years.
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