Izenson, M., Bieszczad, J., Magari, P., and Sisco, J., "Demonstration of a Compact Hydrogen Fuel Cell Power System for UAS Propulsion," SAE Int. J. Aerosp. 7(1):135-141, 2014, doi:10.4271/2014-01-2223.
We have assembled and demonstrated a prototype power system that uses an innovative hydrogen generator to fuel an ultra-compact PEM fuel cell that is suitable for use in small unmanned aerial system (UAS) propulsion systems. The hydrogen generator uses thermal decomposition of ammonia borane (AB) to produce hydrogen from a very compact and lightweight package. An array of AB fuel pellets inside a low pressure container is activated sequentially to produce hydrogen on demand as it is consumed by the fuel cell. The fuel cell plant utilized in the power system prototype has been flown as part of several small UAS development programs and has logged hundreds of hours of flight time. The plant was designed specifically to be readily integrated with a range of hydrogen fueling subsystems and contains the balance of plant necessary to facilitate stand-alone operation. Based on results of these tests, we produced a conceptual design for a flight system. We project overall gravimetric and volumetric power densities of 350 W hr/L and 600 W hr/kg.