Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Helicopters with fuel cells

09.06.2008
The old saying that “there is strength in numbers” also applies to fuel cells. To deliver a high enough power output, a number of cells have to be connected in series.

Manufacturers normally stack the fuel cells – a structure consisting of several metal plates, each containing one channel for air and one for hydrogen. This makes the fuel cell stack quite heavy.

Together with colleagues at the Technical University of Berlin, researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration IZM in Berlin have developed a fuel cell that weighs only 30 grams and has an output of 12 watts. The high power density of 400 watts per kilogram has so far only been achieved in considerably larger systems weighing several hundred grams. The fuel cell is light enough to power a twenty-centimeter helicopter.

It is being developed by the participants in an EU project, and will be used in future for missions such as locating victims trapped in fallen buildings, monitoring traffic or investigating tracts of land that have been contaminated by chemical accidents.

How did the researchers manage to reduce the weight of the fuel cells so dramatically? “We use very thin, planar fuel cells,” explains IZM team leader Dr. Robert Hahn. “We have replaced the metal plates by lightweight plastic spacers.” The researchers have no need for an additional pump to provide an adequate air supply: The wind generated by the helicopter’s rotor blades goes directly into the air vents.

The scientists had to devise a solution for the hydrogen supply, too, as a conventional pressure tank would be too heavy for the helicopter. “We have built a small reactor containing solid sodium borohydride. If we inject water, this produces hydrogen,” declares Hahn. Since the helicopter always needs about the same amount of energy to stay in the air, the reactor always has to produce a consistent quantity of hydrogen. The researchers have already built a prototype of the lightweight fuel cell.

The helicopter is expected to take off, powered by this fuel cell, in just over a year’s time. For the scientists, the next step is to adjust the hydrogen production to cater for fluctuating energy requirements. There are plenty of applications for such a fuel cell: It could be used as a charging point for laptop computers and cell phones, for instance.

Monika Weiner | alfa
Further information:
http://www.zv.fraunhofer.de

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht 'Stealth' material hides hot objects from infrared eyes
25.06.2018 | University of Wisconsin-Madison

nachricht Scientists print sensors on gummi candy: creating microelectrode arrays on soft materials
21.06.2018 | Technische Universität München

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Superconducting vortices quantize ordinary metal

Russian researchers together with their French colleagues discovered that a genuine feature of superconductors -- quantum Abrikosov vortices of supercurrent -- can also exist in an ordinary nonsuperconducting metal put into contact with a superconductor. The observation of these vortices provides direct evidence of induced quantum coherence. The pioneering experimental observation was supported by a first-ever numerical model that describes the induced vortices in finer detail.

These fundamental results, published in the journal Nature Communications, enable a better understanding and description of the processes occurring at the...

Im Focus: Temperature-controlled fiber-optic light source with liquid core

In a recent publication in the renowned journal Optica, scientists of Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology (Leibniz IPHT) in Jena showed that they can accurately control the optical properties of liquid-core fiber lasers and therefore their spectral band width by temperature and pressure tuning.

Already last year, the researchers provided experimental proof of a new dynamic of hybrid solitons– temporally and spectrally stationary light waves resulting...

Im Focus: Overdosing on Calcium

Nano crystals impact stem cell fate during bone formation

Scientists from the University of Freiburg and the University of Basel identified a master regulator for bone regeneration. Prasad Shastri, Professor of...

Im Focus: AchemAsia 2019 will take place in Shanghai

Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.

Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...

Im Focus: First real-time test of Li-Fi utilization for the industrial Internet of Things

The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.

Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Munich conference on asteroid detection, tracking and defense

13.06.2018 | Event News

2nd International Baltic Earth Conference in Denmark: “The Baltic Sea region in Transition”

08.06.2018 | Event News

ISEKI_Food 2018: Conference with Holistic View of Food Production

05.06.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rapid water formation in diffuse interstellar clouds

25.06.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Using tree-fall patterns to calculate tornado wind speed

25.06.2018 | Earth Sciences

'Stealth' material hides hot objects from infrared eyes

25.06.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>