In the past, I’ve talked about hydrogen airplanes starting to take flight. In November, I had talked about the Horizon Fuel Cell Pterosoar unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) setting a record for flying 78 miles in around 3 hours.
Now, another hydrogen fuel cell UAV has set a record and this is the AeroVironment Puma. This past summer, the Puma set a record by staying aloft for 5 hours straight. Just a few weeks ago, the AeroVironment Puma set another record by flying for over 7 hours straight. The Puma is a hand-launched vehicle with a wingspan of 8.5 feet.
The AeroVironment Puma uses a Protonex ProCore UAV system that includes fuel cell stack and chemical hydride storage to achieve its lofty records. This fuel cell system provides low noise and high performance with five times the energy density of other batteries and can achieve up to 1,000 watts per kilogram of output.
And, AeroVironment is no fly-by-night operation, either (except the Puma, which can fly by night) as the company has been around since 1971 building solar, electric and fuel cell vehicles. In a fitting bit of irony, the more hydrogen fuel cell technology becomes grounded, the more it will take to the air. And, this is a lofty ambition, indeed.