Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Global Eye: Hydrogen Powered UAV

Hydrogen powered UAV

Ultimately, the Global observer will be powered by a liquid-hydrogen-fueled propulsion system. AeroVironment had explored the use of solar power for the aircraft , but determined that liquid hydrogen propulsion was the best solution for a high-altitude, long-endurance UAV. Solar power today is not sufficient to support continuous operation beyond the tropics during winter.
Image: UAV taxi
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 chemical reaction that takes place between the water and the fuel pellets produces hydrogen, which moves up into the fuel cell to produce electricity.
The power produced can be used immediately.

"Global Observer is being developed to address the need for an affordable, persistent platform that can provide seamless communications and ISR over any spot on the globe for as long as required,” Curtin said.  

“Swapping orbits every 5 to 7 days, a two-air vehicle system would maintain uninterrupted coverage in a manner similar
to a geosynchronous satellite, but about 2,000 times closer to the earth's surface."

In the near future these hydrogen powered technologies and remote sensing surveilance UAV's will be our eye around our planet. It is my hope that they will be developed further for remote sensing capabilities on remote part of our planet, severe weather, agricultural, security and understanding our planet's survival.

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