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European Partnership

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Clean Hydrogen Partnership

Microtubular solid oxide fuel cell power system developement and integration into a mini-UAV

SUAV aims to design, optimise and build a 100-200W mSOFC stack, and to integrate it into a hybrid power system comprising the mSOFC stack and a battery. Additional components of the system are a fuel processor to generate reformate gas from propane and other electrical, mechanical and control balance of plant (BoP).

All these components will be constituents of an entire fuel cell power generator which will first be tested in the lab and, after further optimisation and miniaturisation, in a mini UAV platform. SUAV is primarily aiming at platforms like the CopterCity UAV platform from Survey Copter (France) but will consider other options (in particular fixed wing vehicles) too.

Propane was chosen as the fuel due to its superior energy density compared to hydrogen, whichever storage technique is used. The SOFC was chosen since it can convert reformate (i.e. CO/H2-mixtures) to electricity, as compared to other types of fuel cell that require very pure hydrogen, which significantly reduces fuel processing.

The design of the mSOFC power generator will be primarily driven by the weight and volume available in the mini-UAV. The project intends to optimise mission duration, while efficiency is of less concern. It will open opportunities for exploitation in other light-weight man-portable applications.


SP1-JTI-FCH.2010.4.5 Research and development on new portable and micro Fuel Cell solutions


HyGear Fuel Cell Systems B.V., The Netherlands


Dr. Ellart de Wit

Other participating organisations:

Name Country
ADELAN Ltd. United Kingdom of Great Britain
Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche ITAE Italy
EADS Deutschland GmbH Germany
EADS UK Ltd. United Kingdom of Great Britain
efceco Erich Erdle Germany
University of Birmingham United Kingdom of Great Britain
SurveyCopter France