Compact Hydrogen and PEM Fuel Cells for Drones and UAV

Intelligent Energy Fuel Cells Selected for Shell Pipeline Inspection Drones

The IE-SOAR 2.4kW fuel cell system allowed Shell to conduct inspections with minimal impact to other aircraft and the surrounding community By Mike Ball / 21 Oct 2022
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Hydrogen fuel cell powered pipeline inspection droneIntelligent Energy has confirmed that its IE-SOAR hydrogen fuel cells have been selected by Shell Pipeline Company for its pipeline inspection operations in the northeastern United States. Using Intelligent Energy’s IE-SOAR 2.4kW on a Harris Aerial H6 drone, the company was able to compare fuel cells with ICE hybrid technology.

Fuel cells provide significantly longer flight times for UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) when compared with traditional battery power. This makes them an ideal solution for commercial operators who require extended flight time to capture data over large areas. They also provide many other benefits, including increased operational efficiency largely driven by reduced downtime versus a combustion engine. With reduced maintenance and zero-emission operation, Intelligent Energy’s fuel cell modules offer a unique solution to improving the performance of drones presently constrained by the limitations of batteries.

Reginald Wycoff, Shell Pipeline Aviation Manager, commented: “This is an important step in the future of commercial aerial surveillance. SOAR fuel cell powered aircrafts offer high performance with low noise and zero emissions. The technology has enabled Shell to conduct aerial safety patrols of the Falcon pipeline without the risks inherent to manned aircraft and with minimal impact to the local community.”

The Chief Pilot at drone inspection company AviSight stated: “After operating the Harris Aerial H6 with an internal combustion engine, it did not take long to realise the benefits of the IE-SOAR hydrogen fuel cell. Almost non-existent noise pollution, low maintenance operation, and smooth power delivery make the IE-SOAR fuel cell powered H6 Hydrone a pleasure to operate.”

Andy Kelly, Head of Product Line at Intelligent Energy, noted: “It is great to see Shell using IE-SOAR fuel cells to improve efficiency and reduce emissions. Using fuel cells in real commercial operations has allowed Shell to experience the benefits first hand. Pipeline inspection is an ideal application for fuel cell UAVs, where increased range increases efficiency. We look forward to expanding operations for pipeline inspection across the United States.”

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Posted by Mike Ball Mike Ball is our resident technical editor here at Unmanned Systems Technology. Combining his passion for teaching, advanced engineering and all things unmanned, Mike keeps a watchful eye over everything related to the unmanned technical sector. With over 10 years’ experience in the unmanned field and a degree in engineering, Mike’s been heading up our technical team here for the last 8 years. Connect & Contact