Last month FuelCellWorks reported that according to various Chinese media sources, a research drone powered by hydrogen fuel cells set a world record by flying for 331 minutes uninterrupted.
The news was first reported by the Science and Technology Daily report, that Beijing Xinyan Chuangneng Technology Co., Ltd. developed a six-rotor hydrogen fuel cell drone that flew for 331 minutes. This was a joint project between Xinyan Chuangneng and China National Airways.
The long flight time is made possible due to the core technology, which is hydrogen fuel cells. The drone is equipped with a high-pressure hydrogen storage bottle that provides hydrogen to the fuel cells to generate electricity.
Apparently, Xinyan Chuangneng had only been working on implementing the hydrogen for one year. In that time, they successfully developed a 2kW metal plate fuel cell that has an air-cooled stack and system.
Keeping the size compact, its lightweight and the high power density provides excellent performance even at high altitudes. Speaking of high altitudes the long flight time in low oxygen, low temperature, high wind extremes proves the hydrogen fuel cells can hold up under harsh conditions.
Originally scheduled to fly for just 240 minutes, the team exceeded their own expectations by 91 minutes. Proving just how valuable hydrogen fuel cells are, while only emitting water vapor.
A similar large-scale all-weather lithium battery drone has a flight time of less than one hour, and oil-powered drones have more vibration that requires shock absorbers for shooting high-quality images or videos.
Drone technology is beginning to become more widely used, especially now that the United Parcel Service (UPS) has teamed up with Wingcopter to provide medical drone deliveries to remote locations. Hydrogen could play a big role in the overall distance that can be covered if these fuel cells become mainstream.
China is ranked among the world leaders in drone technology, DJI Company from Shenzen, Guandong occupy 70% of the global market and are the world leaders for camera drones and quadcopters.