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Innovative fuel cell propulsion technology enabling long endurance for small UAVs

PROJECTS
Funding
European
European Union
Duration
-
Status
Complete
Geo-spatial type
Other
Total project cost
€3 551 250
EU Contribution
€2 485 875
Project website
Project Acronym
UAVEndure II
STRIA Roadmaps
Vehicle design and manufacturing (VDM)
Transport mode
Airborne icon
Transport policies
Other specified

Overview

Call for proposal
H2020-EIC-SMEInst-2018-2020
Link to CORDIS
Background & Policy context

Technological advancements in electronic UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) are advancing at a rapid pace. Their market uptake is low mainly due to their limited flight time as frequent recharging is required. In case of massive deployment of electric UAVs, handling and charging battery packs represents a logistical problem. This is why large aerial platforms or large UAV systems powered by internal combustion engines (ICE) are preferable on long missions. However, their price and their operability costs are high. The EU-funded UAVEndure II project proposes a unique approach that is based on the combination of both technologies. It aims to improve the capabilities of small electric UAVs as an alternative to the large and costly drones.

UAV flight time is critical for several mission scenarios, as frequent recharging or refuelling limits the effective availability and service time, as well as range. This has thus far prevented the use of fully electric unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), since their performance scales unfavourably with the size/intensity of the UAV operation. Moreover, when small electric UAVs are massively deployed, and particularly in time critical mission, the handling and charging of many battery packs becomes a logistical problem. Thus, manned aerial platforms (helicopters and planes) or large (>25 kg) fixed-wing UAV systems, powered by internal combustion engines (ICE) have been the preferred option for long endurance missions such as monitoring and surveying. However, these large systems present high CAPEX and OPEX, mostly due to the oversized nature of these systems.

Objectives

The unique approach of UAVEndure II project is the combination of two technologies, namely small fixed-wing UAVs and fuel-cell power generation at a downsized scale and price not attempted before. The rationale is to harvest all the benefits of small electric UAVs, while having access to high endurance hitherto only possible with large aerial platforms propelled by ICE.

Sky-Watch (SKY) and KraftWerk (KWT) have jointly developed the next generation fuel cell propulsion system for small UAVs - ELJUN - to cover the needs of drone OEMs and end-users for increased flight range/time of small UAVs. ELJUN provides 10x more flight range than LiPO battery. This is expected to further increase the usability of these small systems as an alternative to larger, costlier drones, thus untapping wider access to the use of this technology in civil and governmental applications. Thus, we expect ELJUN to become a new reference in the sector.

Funding

Specific funding programme
H2020-EU.2.3. - INDUSTRIAL LEADERSHIP - Innovation In SMEs
H2020-EU.3. - PRIORITY 'Societal challenges
H2020-EU.2.1. - INDUSTRIAL LEADERSHIP - Leadership in enabling and industrial technologies

Partners

Lead Organisation
Organisation
SKY-WATCH A/S
Address
OSTRE ALLE 6, 9530 Stovring, Denmark
EU Contribution
€1 318 893
Partner Organisations
Organisation
KRAFTWERK TUBES GMBH
Address
COLLENBUSCHSTR 22, 01324 Dresden, Germany
EU Contribution
€1 166 982

Technologies

Technology Theme
Aircraft design and manufacturing
Technology
Long flight duration drones

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