Honeywell has embarked on a partnership with the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Laboratory (NREL) to usher in a new era of hydrogen-powered drones.
This collaboration aims to commercialize innovative hydrogen fuel storage solutions, focusing on a cartridge-based hydrogen fuel storage system tailored for uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs).
Known as the Fuel Additives for Solid Hydrogen (FLASH) project, this initiative is set to revolutionize the UAV industry. It’s a year-long endeavor dedicated to prototyping and advancing the commercial viability of a novel hydrogen carrier technology, originally developed as part of the Hydrogen Materials Advance Research Consortium (HyMARC) project at NREL.
Honeywell’s involvement in this partnership is multifaceted, reflecting its technological prowess and commitment to sustainable aviation. The company will leverage its expertise to conduct tests on fuel cartridge technology, offer supply chain support, engage in prototyping activities, and evaluate fuel cell performance.
Dave Shilliday, Vice President and General Manager of Urban Air Mobility and Uncrewed Aerial Systems at Honeywell Aerospace, emphasized the significance of this collaboration. “This partnership with NREL is the latest example of how Honeywell is driving the future of sustainable aviation,” he stated. Shilliday pointed out that hydrogen holds immense promise for electric vertical take-off and landing systems (eVTOL) due to its potential to enhance endurance and range. Furthermore, hydrogen can substantially expand the capabilities of UAVs, effectively overcoming the constraints associated with battery-electric powertrains.
UAVs have witnessed a surge in adoption across various industrial applications, including surveying, infrastructure inspection, and security. However, battery-powered UAVs face limitations, especially when tasked with long-range missions and carrying heavy payloads. Honeywell and NREL’s mission is to demonstrate that hydrogen can address these challenges effectively.
The FLASH project introduces a cutting-edge concept: a solid material capable of rapidly releasing hydrogen gas through a fuel cell. This material exhibits a high hydrogen capacity and can operate at low temperatures. Steve Christensen, one of the NREL leads on the project, expressed enthusiasm about Honeywell’s engagement. “Honeywell has already built and tested devices that can use our materials,” he stated, highlighting the collaborative R&D effort as a vital step in propelling hydrogen-powered drone technology toward commercialization.