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Monday, October 20, 2014

Long-Endurance Electric Unmanned Aircraft and the Potential for Other Things

USNRL photo
The engineers and scientists at the Navy Research Laboratory have successfully tested a long-endurance unmanned aircraft using a special tank of liquid hydrogen to feed fuel cells. Read more at "NRL Shatters Endurance Record for Small Electric UAV::
Researchers at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) flew their fuel cell powered Ion Tiger UAV for 48 hours and 1 minute on April 16-18 by using liquid hydrogen fuel in a new, NRL-developed, cryogenic fuel storage tank and delivery system.
Liquid hydrogen is three times denser than 5000-psi compressed hydrogen. The cryogenic liquid is stored in a lightweight tank, allowing more hydrogen to be carried onboard to increase flight endurance. Success in flight requires developing a high quality, lightweight insulated flight dewar for the cryogenic fuel, plus matching the boil off of the cryogenic hydrogen to the vehicle fuel consumption.
To address the logistics of in-theater supply of liquid or gaseous hydrogen, NRL proposes in-situ manufacture of LH2 for use as fuel. An electrolyzer-based system would require only water for feedstock, and electricity, possibly from solar or wind, to electrolyze, compress, and refrigerate the fuel.
Much quieter and long-endurance, too. I wonder what its thermal signature looks like?

So, fuel from water to a special tank to power fuel cells to drive electric motors.

Potentially a game changer in the world of powering land vehicles, too,  I would think.

Makes me wonder a little about the future of fossil fuels.

1 comment:

  1. Its the remnants of the hydrogen economy proposed by Bush W. The problem is the huge infrastructure cost to switch from gas/diesel to hydrogen fuel centers across the country along with everything else to get the hydrogen to the locations. Another huge hurdle as far as the liberal pansies are concerned is the idea of going nuclear in a big way for our major electrical production, that would allow us to make power during the day and then in the offtime at night instead of rolling back using nuclear advantage of not having a cost advantage of rolling back at night so use that heat power to create the hydrogen that would then fuel the cars.

    It would have been a huge undertaking but had many benefits if successful. Self generating our fuel, fuel cells have few moving parts its a chemical process that creates power to drive motors, nuclear cheep clean electrical power but it was not to be. O came in and we have failed solar, wind, straight up graft that like all great liberal ideas is nice and fuzzy but has no real results.

    The best tech news I have seen of late is the Skunk Works announcing they have found the key to fusion. If it was just some scientist I would file it under wait and see but Skunk Works their reputation proceeds them and I cannot see them risking it without being pretty dam sure. Very hopeful.