Miniature Fuel Cell to Keep Drones Aloft for Over an Hour

By admin | Technology

Mar 31

The fuel cell is still in the prototype phase, researchers believe that their research could allow for “larger, less expensive (but with much higher-power density) fuel cells for use in vehicles in the not-too-distant future.”

Colin Jeffrey reports that a professor and a Ph.D. student from Pohang University of Science and Technology (Postech) have developed a miniature fuel cell allowing drones to fly for over an hour. This miniature fuel cell can also power a smartphone for a week before requiring a re-charge.Today, drones are being used in many ways, such as parcel delivery and search and rescue. Jeffrey discloses that the drones flight time is restricted which limits their ability to travel greater distances or for a longer duration of time in the field.

Researches from Postech are in the process of trying to solve this problem. Professor Gyeong Man Choi and his Ph.D. student Kun Joong Kim at Postech are developing a “miniature fuel cell they claim not only provides enough energy to keep a drone in the sky for over an hour, but may well find applications in powering enough energy to keep a drone in the sky for over an hour, but may well find applications in powering everything from Smartphone to cars in the not-too-distant future.”

Jeffrey reports that the Postech fuel cell is still in the prototype phase. Further, researchers believe that their research could conclude that the development of “larger, less expensive (but with much higher-power density) fuel cells for use in vehicles in the not-too-distant future.”

How does the fuel cell work? “The Postech device generates power by converting hydrogen (in this case, “Wet” H2 gas comprising 97 percent H2 and 3 percent H20 mixture) supplied as fuel gas to the anode to create electricity.” Jeffrey discloses that this is accomplished through the use of a solid oxide material that acts as the electrolyte. Further, “the electrolyte that allows the conduction of negative oxygen ions from the cathode to the anode. These ions diffuse through the solid oxide electrolyte to the anode where they oxidize the fuel.” The reaction then produces electrons; they “flow through an external circuit to provide power.”

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