Engineering and Computer Science Faculty Publications

Flight Studies of Hydrogen Fuel Cell Powered Propulsion Systems on an Unmanned Aircraft

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Hydrogen + Fuel Cell Conference 2011


One promising solution to reducing the environmental impact of aircraft emissions is replacing conventional combustion engines with efficient electrical power systems based on hydrogen proton exchange membrane fuel cells. While modern fuel cells can generally have a gravimetric power density that is similar to combustion engines, their volumetric power density is lower. The use of hybrid power systems are one means of improving this deficiency. This paper describes several fuel cell power system designs and compares their flight performances when installed on an unmanned aircraft. The flight performances demonstrated for each of these systems can be used to establish a baseline for the design of a future generation of operational fuel cell powered aircraft.