Kent’s CAE develops hybrid fuel cell for unmanned aircraft vehicles
With 118 minutes of operation, the flight surpassed the 60-minute goal that the team set for the flight.
Kent State University’s College of Aeronautics and Engineering (CAE) developed an innovative hybrid fuel cell capacitor that prolongs the flight time of unmanned aircraft vehicles (UAVs), the first hybrid fuel cell battery capacitor developed explicitly for commercial UAVs.
The project team, led by Dr Yanhai Du, Professor at Kent State’s CAE and principal investigator at Kent State’s Fuel Cell Research Lab, developed a lightweight-high-energy-density onboard power source that enables vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) type aircraft to potentially increase flight time and payload.
The 118 minutes operation only consumed 40% of the fuel tank capacity.
Dr Yanhai Du, professor in Kent State’s CAE, said, “We proved that the hybrid power source works in the lab for 12-hours continuous operation, and for flight time, it will really depend on how much fuel we can carry.”
The Ohio Federal Research Network (OFRN) played a role in the initial funding of the project and its successful completion. It was developed from January 2020 through May 2022. OFRN is an Ohio-wide research and development funding program managed by Parallax Advanced Research in collaboration with The Ohio State University and funded by the Ohio Department of Higher Education. Its mission is to “foster statewide university and industry research collaborations that meet the mission-critical need of Ohio’s federal laboratories.”
The project team included Kent State, Case Western Reserve University, NASA Glenn Research Center, University of Dayton Research Institute (UDRI), Wright State University, Event 38 Unmanned Systems Inc., Air Force Research Laboratory, and Army Research Laboratory.
Matt Bush, Parallax Advanced Research Program Manager for OFRN, commented, “What the Kent State and Event 38 team accomplished proves that the best ideas come out of the academic-small business-government collaborations, and best of all, they have the power to change how we travel and distribute goods and services.”