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Fuel cells are an environmentally friendly power technology that also can provide superior performance for certain applications. A fuel cell uses the chemical energy of hydrogen or another fuel to cleanly and efficiently produce electricity. Scandinavia’s first hydrogen drone flight marks a significant advance in hydrogen-powered aviation technology. 

A successful test flight of a hydrogen fuel cell-powered Staaker BG-200 drone has been completed by Nordic Unmanned. The drone is a robust and versatile platform that is adapted to Nordic conditions.

The Norway-based company announced that the drone was equipped with a 2kW customized fuel cell system from HES and a 7.2L pressure vessel with hydrogen at 300bar.

The fuel cell system of the drone was designed for a “high endurance module” that can be installed on any fuel cell ready Staaker BG-200.

By doubling the endurance, operational efficiency and range can be improved, and by doing so, could potentially enable fuel cell powered drones for certain applications where mission endurance and range are essential, like beyond visual-line of sight (BVLOS) operations for logistics, search and rescue, and inspections. 

Thus, the value proposition of multirotor drones can be significantly improved, closing the capability and performance gap between certain fixed-wing UAV platforms. Fuel cells also offer the benefits of no emissions, low noise profile, etc. compared to other high-endurance options, according to the company’s website.

Initiated in 2018, the project has been carried out in the framework of an industrial Ph.D. program at the University of Stavanger and funded by the Research Council of Norway.

The regulatory landscape for unmanned systems is evolving rapidly, and the prospects for certification and deploying the system in full-scale operations is an important aspect for the project to investigate. The company received approvals from the CAA-N, Norway’s Civil Aviation Authority, after a rigorous process that will allow it to carry out further testing.