H3 Dynamics North America has released the following article, highlighting the H2FIELD-1 field-operable hydrogen refueling station and its advantages to commercial and military drone operations.
The H2FIELD-1 by H3 Dynamics is a compact, trailer unit that enables the production of hydrogen in-the-field. This is incredibly significant within the unmanned sector – hydrogen UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) offer 3-to-30 times more flight endurance capability over regular battery powered drones.
Whilst batteries are a known limiter, so too is access to hydrogen
The number one question from drone operators and manufacturers looking to make the switch from batteries to hydrogen fuel cells is “where do I get the hydrogen?” This is compounded by the fact that many industrial drone flights are conducted in remote areas. For the first time since research into H2 powered-UAVs started, H2FIELD-1 offers a solution to this problem by delivering a “do it yourself” hydrogen capability in-the-field, at the point of operations.
H2FIELD-1 is the missing link in the unmanned hydrogen space. The simple-to-use portable hydrogen station enables the production of hydrogen – small UAV hydrogen storage tanks are filled automatically: In goes the empty tank, out comes a full one in less than 15 minutes.
- Hydrogen is created using electricity from the vehicle or an outside power supply to separate water into hydrogen and oxygen.
- An onboard compressor pressurizes and transfers the gas to the drones storage cylinder located inside the trailer system.
- Depending on the configuration, a hydrogen powered UAS, using pressurized hydrogen storage tanks, can fly up to 10 times longer than using batteries alone.
The development path of the H2FIELD-1
As with many UAS future technologies, the H2FIELD-1 was initially designed for defense, public safety, and security sectors, as these organizations have mature and well established UAS programs.
Hydrogen-powered UAS provide both the silent operation and the endurance required by tactical drones conducting ISR (surveillance, intelligence, recognisance) operations. The H2FIELD-1 answers the question of how to make hydrogen in-the-field, hundreds of miles away from civilization, and without interruption.
The hydrogen station is an automated turnkey system, easy to operate with little to no user intervention once started. Additionally the H2FIELD-1 can also be used to store hydrogen for other small power items, including small power generators, lighting, communications and satellite devices.
The H2-FIELD-1 is ideally suited to support hydrogen powered drones in direct support of large-scale mapping operations in mining, very large agricultural spaces which need long coverage. There is already a need for such devices in mining operations—some of which have the size of small countries.
The on-demand hydrogen production capabilities of the H2FIELD-1 accelerates the time it takes for inspection drones operating over remote areas to cover large territories.
“The response has been extremely positive from both defense and commercial markets. We have exceptionally high demand from the defense sector especially as hydrogen drones started to appear in various programs. We expect the commercial sector to follow as we are already leading the effort to convert the battery powered UAV industry to hydrogen, one manufacturer at a time.” – Jarat Ford, H3 Dynamics
H3 Dynamics is already working on a liquid hydrogen version of the H2FIELD-1, which would increase endurance by a further 30 times relative to batteries.
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