Drones

Hydrogen-powered Hycopter quadcopter could fly for 4 hours at a time

Horizon hopes to set a new endurance record, with its long-flying Hycopter drone
Horizon hopes to set a new endurance record, with its long-flying Hycopter drone
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The complete Hycopter should weigh a total of 5 kg (11 lb), and be capable of carrying a payload of up to 1 kg (2.2 lb)
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The complete Hycopter should weigh a total of 5 kg (11 lb), and be capable of carrying a payload of up to 1 kg (2.2 lb)
Horizon hopes to set a new endurance record, with its long-flying Hycopter drone
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Horizon hopes to set a new endurance record, with its long-flying Hycopter drone
The Hycopter stores 120 g (4.2 oz) of hydrogen gas at 350 bar (5,076 psi) in its existing structural tubing
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The Hycopter stores 120 g (4.2 oz) of hydrogen gas at 350 bar (5,076 psi) in its existing structural tubing

When people suggest possible uses for electric multicopter drones, it frequently seems like they're forgetting something – presently, most such aircraft can only fly for a maximum of around 25 minutes per battery charge. Horizon Energy Systems, however, is developing a quadcopter that should do a lot better. Known as the Hycopter, the fuel cell-powered drone is hoped to be capable of 4-hour flight times once completed.

In a clever design feature, the Hycopter stores 120 g (4.2 oz) of hydrogen gas at 350 bar (5,076 psi) in its existing structural tubing – no separate canister is required.

The complete Hycopter should weigh a total of 5 kg (11 lb), and be capable of carrying a payload of up to 1 kg (2.2 lb)
The complete Hycopter should weigh a total of 5 kg (11 lb), and be capable of carrying a payload of up to 1 kg (2.2 lb)

Although those refillable tubes are made of clear acrylic in the pictured display model, they'll be constructed from polymer-lined 5 mm-thick carbon fiber tubing in the functional prototype. According to Horizon, that amount of hydrogen should provide the same amount of energy as 3 kg (6.6 lb) of lithium batteries.

The gas is converted into electricity by a lightweight lithium polymer hybrid fuel cell. Altogether, the complete drone should weigh a total of 5 kg (11 lb), and be capable of carrying a payload of up to 1 kg (2.2 lb) – although when it's carrying that much of a load, its endurance will be more around the 2.5-hour mark. Additionally, the location of the payload can be adjusted, in order to keep the weight distributed evenly.

Taras Wankewycz, Horizon's Group Chief Executive Officer, tells us that the flying prototype is almost ready to go, and should be making its first flight later this year. In the meantime, the company is taking preorders for the Hycopter from interested parties. Final pricing has yet to be determined.

Source: Horizon Unmanned Systems

5 comments
zevulon
fitting a hydrogen fuel cell system to a small quadcopter format is a big deal. it has been in the works for years by various parties and this is actually a big set of steps in the future of drones. 2.5 hours with a 1 kg payload is an audacious claim. but it's possible. though not likely. even 1 hour with a 1kg payload under reasonably aggressive flying conditions would be pretty much a revolution in small drone capabilities.
Simon Sammut
oh yeah.. this is what will make drone delivery viable. Bring it!!
Bob
H2 at 5000psi??? Hopefully, the drone refueling guy gets hazardous duty pay. 120 g of hydrogen gas can generate a pretty big boom.
AndreyAndrey
"fitting a hydrogen fuel cell system to a small quad-copter format is a big deal. it has been in the works for years by various parties" what the hell are you talking about, H-CELL has been on the market for years, other 12v options also available, iv actually seen it on a drone 2 years back, only issue with it is that its a lot more expensive the regular battery set up so if you want to shell out $2k there is no problem or lack of product here.
Douglas Bennett Rogers
There have been large filament wound gas cylinders at 20 K psi around for 30 years so a small cylinder at 5 K psi is very conservative. 4 K psi is standard gas coolant pressure.
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