On August 16, 2010 I had talked about the Global Observer UAV which was built by AeroVironment and being tested at Edwards Air Force Base in California. The Global Observer UAV is a hybrid unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that is powered by both batteries and liquid hydrogen via a small internal combustion engine.
The purpose of the Global Observer is to put an aircraft at high altitudes of over 50,000 feet for the purposes of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions. The Global Observer may replace some satellites because it can stay aloft longer than most other UAVs plus it is much more maneuverable than any satellite.
According to Tech News Daily, “The Global Observer has a 175-foot wingspan and weighs less than 10,000 pounds. It has a modular composite airframe, which enables it be transported by a cargo aircraft, and an internal-combustion engine modified to burn hydrogen that drives a generator to produce electricity to power the UAV’s four propellers. Hydrogen was chosen because it has three times the energy of conventional fuel. When in operation, the aircraft produces no carbon emissions.”
The UAV market is another vehicle niche where hydrogen fuel is gaining momentum. Hydrogen powered vehicles are underwater, on top of water, on land, in the air, at high altitudes in the air and in outer space. Now, if we can broaden the scope from niche to mainstream the world will be a cleaner place for it.