This Drone Will Fly For One Hour Using A Hydrogen Fuel Cell: Here's How! 12 FAQ's



well hey there how's it going Bobby Watts here from watts innovations so recently I just announced the new MFD 3000 hydrogen fuel cell concept drone so this is a collaboration between my company watts innovations and intelligent energy out of the UK so this is their brand new 2.4 kilowatt module that's going to allow us to fly a big drone like this you know with a 10 pound payload for over an hour so I think that this is really game-changing technology so in an effort to help explain how a drone like this will work and why I think that hydrogen fuel cells really have a chance in the industrial drone market I wanted to make this video which answers a bunch of questions regarding drones with the use of hydrogen fuel cells so I think that this is hopefully gonna answer maybe any question you might have or even questions you haven't thought of yet now just to know this video is very informal it's very off-the-cuff it's not scripted so if I were to misuse a unit of measurement or something just go easy on me here I was just really trying to get as much information as I could out in an informal way that's hopefully pretty entertaining to you guys so without further ado check it out this is 12 things you need to know about hydrogen fuel cells working with industrial drugs and today I am so excited to finally be revealing what I've been up to recently and it's this this is a concept drone now this is powered with a hydrogen fuel cell now let's let that sink in for a second a hydrogen fuel cells been around for quite a while it's been around since like the Gemini program with NASA decades ago but finally fuel cells have gotten small enough and powerful enough to power an aircraft like a drone link of this size I mean this is incredible this is so cool I've been doing RC aircraft I've been involved in RC aircraft since 2003 so more than half of my life now and by far this is the single biggest technology that I've seen come into RC aviation probably since lithium batteries now I'm not saying that this technology's going to replace anything that we have today but all I'm gonna say is that this is going to give us a very cool alternative option that we've never had before so what I wanted to do today was just kind of explain everything that I've been kind of learning in the last few months while looking into this hydrogen fuel cell issue you know is this a viable option will this actually solve a real-life problem and I think it will I really think it will so when I first kind of stumbled upon the fuel cell I had more questions than I knew what to do with so before I really didn't even know what a fuel cell was and I was just digging and digging and looking through articles and videos and and everything and have really had to teach myself a lot to figure out how it would work best with a drone and how to make this happen and the awesome folks from intelligent energy the manufacturer of this fuel cell have been super helpful so between what I've learned from them and some other guys and some articles hopefully I can answer a lot of questions that you guys might have just by reading the title of you know this is a hydrogen fuel cell drum so in this video I'm gonna make it a little bit long form I just really want to make it nice and thorough to hopefully kind of explain how it works with a drone so I've come up with twelve main topics that I want to address in this video and I'm sure there will be more so if you have any questions whatever you can always email me or hit me up on the social media platforms and I can hopefully explain them further in detail also be at the AUV si Show next week in Chicago and hopefully we'll be doing a lot more video and maybe some Q&A and that kind of thing for social media content as well so before I get into this video I want to throw out two main caveat before I even begin so number one when I talk about drones with a fuel cell I'm mainly referring to industrial professional heavier bigger drones I'm not really referring to any drone that you can hold into your in your hand or something small like a Mavic or phantom or a spark or something what I'm referring to is larger drones that are carrying payloads of you know I don't know eight 10 20 50 pounds and beyond and for drones that are out in the workforce being used on professional movie sets or cargo hauling or flying expensive lidar sensors or cameras or whatever it may be so we're really talking about like high-end professional drugs like that's the first one mainly and number two I'd just want to throw this out that this video is going to be less about this exact setup of a fuel cell and this exact stack and this exact tank in this exact drone this is more of a concept how do you feel cells work in drones and once again are they a viable alternative so just wanted to throw those two things out before I begin so let's get right into it so first and foremost what is a hydrogen fuel cell well my friends I'm here to answer that for you so a hydrogen fuel cell is more or less just a generator so if you look at this drone we have it one board generator generating electricity and in short what it does is it's going to take the high pressure hydrogen gas in the tank and it's going to mix that with the oxygen in the air and through the stack and through the chemistry and the various processes that's designed inside the fuel cell it's going to generate electricity with a byproduct of a little bit of water so that water doesn't even condense it's not even going to be visible it's just going to leave warm mist around the stack itself but in general we're just creating electricity so once again we're taking high pressured hydrogen gas so this is filled up to 300 bar so it's like 4,500 psi that's high so that's like double of a scuba tank so we have some very high pressure and hydrogen's in in that tank itself and so when it's mixed with the oxygen we're generating just clean electricity with clean water vapor as a by-product so a hydrogen fuel cell has been around for quite a while it was used as I mentioned in the NASA Gemini program as what kind of where it was first used I think they had one on the space shuttle and they've been kind of making some waves over the last few years so we'll get to this later but I think that because the way in which a fuel cell works it's gonna be perfect for drugs so next up why is a drone a perfect vehicle for a hydrogen fuel cell and why maybe a car isn't so inevitably if you're like me a millennial like me we find out Oh hydrogen fuel cell pop it into Google pop it into YouTube and what do you find well in general what I was seeing was kind of a lot of hating on hydrogen fuel cells but mainly in the automotive market and after doing a bunch of digging kind of what I'm basically seeing is that a hydrogen fuel cell is a less efficient process of taking energy and powering a vehicle than let's say a lithium battery so for example if we are going if we had a certain amount of energy and we can power a car with that energy we could either simply take that energy and store it into a battery or we could take that energy and create hydrogen gas with that energy and then power the vehicle that way and basically what they're seeing is that well it's a simple physics is that just taking that energy and sticking in the battery is a more efficient process than generating the hydrogen gas and letting that power the fuel cell but why does it matter for a drone like that's a car market that's great I understand that's completely different it's a different argument with a drone why is it so important with a drum energy density so for a given pound of our power plant in this case a fuel cell stack and a hydrogen tank for a given pound of this versus a given pound of a lithium battery we're generating more electricity with the fuel cell than we are with the battery that the battery can store so this is so important in drone world basically because of two things number one with a drone especially we have to lift our power plant where with a car it kind of it rolls it's got gravity and it's rolling and it's got momentum and so the car doesn't care as much as much about the weight of the vehicle where with the drone every single ounce is absolutely critical for how long this aircrafts going to stay in the air so it basically performance so our power plant needs to be as light as possible and number two we are regulated here in the US for example 255 pounds and below so this drone for example in its battery form is designed to lift about a 25 pound payload and be rated that 55 pound legal limit now with this fuel cell this one in particular is a 2.4 kilowatt system so we'll be able to get about 10 to 12 pounds of a payload with this all it's staying at 2.4 kilowatts so this exact drone can lift about a 10 to 12 pound payload so because of the weight and the energy density that it to me is what makes it an absolutely perfect candidate for a drone okay so now that we know how the fuel cell works what are the various parts that's involved in putting it on a drone and powering a drone well it's really simple actually we have two main components we have a stack and then we have the tank itself so this stack in particular for this aircraft is the newly unveiled 2.4 kilowatt system by a company called intelligent energy out of the UK so this is still in the prototype phase and this one is going to be released towards the end of the year if not beginning of next year so this stack right here as I mentioned in the beginning of the video is what's generating the electricity based on the oxygen and the hydrogen coming together inside the stack so it's producing electricity so once again we have a onboard generator so the stack is generating the electricity and then we have the tank the tank is a simple this one for example is a six liter tank that can hold high pressured hydrogen up to 300 bar as I mentioned so 4,500 psi and so the hydrogen is stored within this tank now these tanks are really special it has a plastic lining to allow the hydrogen not to escape and then it's covered by lightweight carbon fiber and other composites and then it's got a metal outside structure and these are they drop them from 300 feet drop test and approve ballistic approved it's really impressive at how much these tanks are really rated so these tanks are made by various manufacturers and then they have to get a certain approval for them to be allowed in the US sir anywhere else in the world but basically the tank is just similar to a scuba tank or a propane tank or oxygen tank if you're a welder or whatever it may be it's just a the simple well-built tank to hold in this high pressured hydrogen gas so between the tank and the stack itself that's really all you need in order to make a hydrogen fuel cell power a drone so next up how is a hydrogen fuel cell going to work in a drone so here I'm going to try to be a little specific so that you drone guys can understand exactly what's going to happen here so the coolest part about it and the reason that I think fuel cells are definitely a winner is because it can be retrofitted if you will onto a standard electric aircraft into a standard drone so here we are producing electricity that's what it's doing it's generating electricity on board whereas a battery is taking that stored energy and we're using that stored energy to for propulsion to power our motors but instead of using a battery we're just simply going to generate it onboard the aircraft so the output of the fuel cell is literally going to just plug into my with my battery connectors and just power my main rails which is then going to power the motors in flight so it's really pretty simple so basically you're just gonna take a tank that's full of hydrogen you're gonna turn on the fuel cell and basically rate that in there it's going to start producing electricity so basically what we've got is just an internal little nice generator that's nice and clean nice and quiet and it's gonna power the aircraft so this one as I mentioned 2.4 kilowatt this aircraft with a 12 pound payload will generate about 2.4 kilowatts or require 2.4 kilowatts worth of power in order for it to fly so with this tank and this feels cell we're gonna be able to fly for about 50 minutes five zero minutes until that tank is empty and so this one uses a DJI a3 flight controller and intelligent Energy's interface is just going to beautifully interface with the a3 it'll also work with pixhawk or any other flight controller so it can utilize the uart port and other telemetry ports in order to feed the information from the fuel cell into the flight controller so basically once you turn it on you're ready to go you could just go ahead and fly your drone for 50 minutes now what do we do in the event that add line busts or we need more power than 2.4 kilowatts or we've run out of fuel in midair well intelligent energy thought of this so in there I've got two small 6s packs which are used for backup and redundancy so my whole system here runs one 12s so 50 volts which is what the fuel cell is outputting and then we've got the batteries to act in two different ways which is so cool to check this out number one in the event of a gas failure or a fuel system failure whatever happens with the fuel cell if it were to fail completely it'll kick on to a lithium battery so it'll switch over all power to lithium batteries the of lithium batteries will be set at a certain voltage where we will then throw an alarm to the flight controller the flight controller will know we're on battery power it's time to land and then the aircraft will just land itself and with these small batteries I can fly for about a minute and a half it should be fine to just kind of stop whatever we're doing and go ahead and live summer one number one the batteries are used as like a reserve more or less just like a fail-safe if you will number two what the battery is going to do is it's going to be able to give an extra boost should the system demand more than two point four kilowatts so that to me it's really cool so maybe we're just generally drawing around two kilowatts to put to 2.4 but then for whatever reason maybe we need to give full throttle and sideways at 50 miles an hour or something so the batteries will be able to feed in even more power to provide more than 2 point 4 kilowatts and then the system once it returns back to its nominal 2 kilowatts 2.4 kilowatts then the system is actually going to recharge the batteries in flight so that is super cool so that right here is a basis of how the hydrogen fuel cell is going to work in a drone next up energy density and flight time this is huge this is the whole game right here so let's just jump right into it so with energy density if you have like a hydrogen fuel cell for example if we have one pound of a hydrogen fuel cell versus one pound of a lithium battery how is that going to stack up which one is the better option well let me give you some numbers and you can decide for yourself so let's take a look at this exact drone here so this is the MFD 3000 the hydrogen fuel cell edition the concept version right here that we've got so this exact setup right here is a 2.4 kilowatt system so this is capable of providing 2.4 kilowatts of power to the aircraft now this is a 6 liter hydrogen tank on top so a 6 liter hydrogen tank will give us 2.2 kilowatt hours worth of power over time so that means that if this aircraft drawls 2.2 kilowatts in a hover let's say that we can fly for an hour well let's just say we're going to be pushing this rate to the max if it's 2.4 kilowatt capability so we're gonna be flying right around 55 minutes or so so with this set up right here with the fuel cell with a probably a 10 to 12-pound payload that will be pushing the fuel celebrated its max an ideal theoretical conditions we can fly for about 55 minutes with this tank here okay so now let's look at a lithium battery how many lithium batteries do we need to get the same amount of power so if we wanted to get 2.2 kilowatt hours we would need to have a 12s 44 thousand milliamp lithium battery so that we would take like a 6s 22000 so we would need four of them so we'd put two of them in series take the other two put them in series we'd have a two-piece set up so that would give us 12s 44,000 and the weight of that would be of round 22 pounds for those in batteries okay so now we have a fuel cell which is weighing about 17 pounds with the battery which is weighing about 22 pounds all right so right there we're about 25 percent less weight in the fuel cell versus the battery to lift this with that exact power in that exact payload well here's where it gets really interesting so let's just say we now want to double our flight time so now let's just say we want to double the amount of time that this king can stay in the air what do we need to do for the fuel cell what we need to do for the battery well the fuel cell the stack is gonna stay the same because remember this is like a generator and this is like our gas tank so all we need to do is just increase our gas tank but the generator stays the same so we're not going to be doubling the weight of the fuel cell we're only going to add on the additional weight of the tank which is about 7 pounds so now we can we can produce 4.4 kilowatt hours only adding an additional 7 pounds not an additional 17 pounds so now we're gonna be able to fly at a weight of the generator system will now be around 24 pounds which is very good we're not doubling in weight we're only going up a little bit where with a battery if I wanted to double the amount of output power that this has the capacity of the batteries I would simply double it so now my 22 pound battery becomes 44 pounds so with a fuel cell it's working in such a way that if we want to continue to improve on that flight time we're only expanding to a bigger tank we're not doubling the entire generator system itself and that is the key that right there is why I believe that this will work in industrial drones at scale and even better I'm talking to more manufacturers who manufacture custom tanks and and everything and we can use a smaller tank and pressurize it more to put in even more hydrogen in there so the weight of the tank is even a variable where we can go with some custom tanks and really get the weight of the tank down so it's it's really interesting how this is going to play out now to be fair if we were the main drawback that I see with batteries is that you're constantly like if to double your power you're then doubling the weight of the battery but now you have to carry this big weight of the battery so therefore you have less payload or you have bigger motors and then you grow and then now you don't fly as long because you have bigger motors and it just becomes a compounding issue where with batteries were always kind of doubling that weight whereas with a hydrogen fuel cell the drawback is the power of the fuel cell so with this one we are limited at how much payload can it actually lift next up why hydrogen and why not any other hybrid form so but any other hybrid form I mean an electric aircraft with some sort of a generator or vessel or something generating electricity to power the aircraft and most notably I've seen a decent amount of aircraft out there which are let's say different power sources so number one you could have tethered tethered aircraft which is great I think they're awesome for surveillance and maybe border patrol or or sporting events something like that but with a tether you can't really fly around you can't Traverse you can only go up and down so you're you're a periscope so I think for those applications if that application will work for you a tether is perfect but let's say you need a fly around what other way can we use a drone I'm not talking about like a like a VTOL aircraft with wings I'm just talking about like a pecks a quadcopter hexacopter octocopter x8 whatever maybe I'm just talking about a drone a flying platform so what other ways can we generate electricity on board well the second one that I've evaluated and looked at is gasoline powered so we could have a high powered gasoline engine on board which would weigh anywhere from 5 to 15 pounds depending on how much output power we want with a gas tank burning fuel and producing electricity so we would have an alternator on board more or less generating electricity to power the electric motors so I think in some industries that can absolutely work if your drone is out in the middle of farmville and your flying back and forth and no one's around you I think you're absolutely fine but I think the biggest problem these gasoline generator drones are facing is noise period so the drones already loud enough you have the electric motors and the noise of the propellers and it sounds like a swarm of bees or whatever you want to compare it to but if we now throw a gasoline motor on top of that I think in some some instances is it's not going to work like when a film set I don't believe that's going to work that yeah it's already loud enough and they don't want to hear the buzzing of the gasoline motor and it's screaming in a hover so I think number 1 noise is not going to allow the gasoline generator to work in the long run number 2 is tuning so if we were to tune it here at sea level and then go up to maybe 10,000 feet or so the tuning would definitely change and your operator would need to be skilled in tuning in order to make that work up at Cielo or up at a different altitude number 3 vibrations there's just general physics when we have a single cylinder engine spinning at many a thousand rpm it's going to vibrate we then need isolation dentin errs and things of that nature to isolate the gasoline engine from getting into the aircraft or even worse it's sensor so it's camera the lens so that's just another thing we would have to battle out if we were to put a gasoline generator in this aircraft where as I mentioned with hydrogen I think it's so good because it's clean it doesn't spin there's no there's not no rotating parts in it it's quiet you know there's no oil so with gasoline we would have oil possibly leaking traveling with it could be a nightmare because it's had oil ran through it therefore you wouldn't be able to put the aircraft on like a commercial flight where with this we could just empty out all the hydrogen out of the tank and we could fly with the tank to like no problem this doesn't have any hazmat materials on it what if the tank is empty so been looking at various ways to power a drone for a long time and I think this is it I think because of those reasons this kind checks all the boxes this hits all the criteria for what a long-range industrial drone needs and I think the fuel cell really does it so the next question that's probably on your mind how the heck do I fill up the tank well we've got a few different options for you so let's say your customer you're interested in flying a 10 pound payload for an hour using the MFD 3000 fuel cell Edition so once again a few different options for you in the USA in any other country you might need to look this could change a little bit for you depending on what kind of tanks you can get and Transport regulations so just take a look based on where you live but in the US here's what I can offer you so number one there is a servant there's a company out there for example one of them is called igx and they offer a service where they will take these tanks so this is a six liter tank for example you could buy multiple six liter tanks for a few hundred bucks a pop and then you can send back the tanks to them and they will you send them the empties and they will send you fully filled out tanks ready to go so if you had a shoot and you had maybe five tanks ten ten tanks then you would just get them back and you would have all your tanks filled up ready to go and they would send that probably by FedEx Ground and you would get those in a few days so that's one option for you if you want nothing to do with it at all the next method which is probably be my preferred method would just be to simply get a refueling station or a compressor compressor station next you would just have to call an industrial gas supply company so if you were a welder and needed oxygen and acetylene for welding or if you had a warehouse and you had a forklift that ran off of a propane tank you know these industrial gas supply companies just deliver gases to business and this is really no different or you can simply call up like a tear gas or Praxair and just tell them you want gas hydrogen and more than likely they have it so I called a few of the suppliers in the area here and they've got tanks were in a service where they would literally just drop tanks off at a business address at a warehouse and then you could take that tank that big tank and then fill your own tanks and I think that that would probably make the most sense if you're gonna hop into this just being able to fill up tanks on the spot would be best for you so same as if you've seen them refill propane tanks at the hardware store it's really the same we're just taking a gas and transferring it into this tank then that gas is being used to produce electricity so it's really pretty simple best of yet is we could take these tanks and we can put them in a proper storage compartment in a vehicle in a truck or something and I can drive all over the US and it's not hazmat it's not dangerous goods it is not so that's what really makes it easier to work around so if you were to fly with this aircraft for example what would you do well number one you could ship tanks to yourself number two you could call up igx and then they could send you tanks you could rent tanks from them for a day rate or something so this is pretty flexible you could get a like a K type hydrogen tank delivered to your job site and you could simply just bring your compressor and you could fill up your own tanks or the job site so it's pretty flexible I think it's just a it's just as hard to deal with this as it is with batteries let's face it I mean lithium batteries are really difficult to transport across the country if you have a chute somewhere so I I do not see that as a really big issue it's just a matter of learning it learning the process and making it happen next up how safe is this well it's all relative right I mean we are flying a drone with large 23 inch spinning propellers so that does fly very expensive things around through the sky so I guess safety is all relative I mean we're not working with bubble wrap here this is a this is a complex mechanical machine so if we were to compare it to lithium batteries for example I would argue that I've seen lithium batteries do some pretty crazy things in a hard crash a lithium battery can puncture and it can ignite and it can cause a wildfire or or anything else so I think when we begin to talk about safety for fuel cells we need to compare it to what we're working with whether it's a gasoline-powered aircraft or a battery-powered aircraft or now hydrogen powered aircraft hydrogen does have some great things going for it number one as I mentioned all the tanks have to be approved by a governing body here in the USA or any other country they need to be approved in order to be allowed for use so this tank as I previously mentioned this as this can live through drop tests up to hundreds of feet without exploding ballistic tests overpressure tests it's got a bleed off valve if you over pressurize the tank so it really has some great things going for it another great thing that hydrogen has going for it is that it's lighter than air so if hydrogen were to ever leak or escape it's going to rise it's not going to drop like propane will and gather in a central spot it's going to rise and just vent to the atmosphere so in a hard crash if this were to catch on fire and ignite for example yes the Hindenburg was hydrogen and it can be a very bad thing like it can be very bad just as bad as lithium batteries I would argue so going back to it it's all relative if you're gonna fly this especially in like a dry area have a fire extinguisher nearby the same recommendation I would have if you're going to be flying a lithium battery powered aircraft especially in a dry climate as far as handling installing the tanks you know you would just want to treat these tanks carefully especially during transport and filling but it would be the same as if you're dealing with a scuba tank or a propane tank or oxygen tank for welding or something you know you just want to treat it with care you wouldn't want to have this rolling around in the back of your pickup truck on the way to the job site but it's all relative in general I do think this is very safe and I do think that the safety will only improve next up is the work flow what would the work flow be for a job let's say I get hired for a job and I want to fly my fuel cell drone what's the workflow gonna be like well number one as we mentioned you got to obtain your tanks so let's say we're going on a movie set or we have a job to take a lidar sensor and scan miles and miles of a particular area so number one we want to make sure that we've got enough tanks or we have the ability to refill tanks there on the spot so that's gonna be critical just in the same way if you have lithium batteries and you need to arrange your charger setups and the how many batteries you have and everything it's gonna take the same amount of calculations and it you only knew you know that if you know you as a professional drone service provider if you know how many flights you have to do that day you should be ready for that so number one figure out how much how much hydrogen you need how many tanks you need and if you can refill there on the spot but other than that it's real simple so pretty much you're gonna go ahead and you're gonna fly and once your tank is empty you're gonna come back and land and number one you could refill that tank within just a few minutes honestly just refill go right back up fly for another hour or you would simply swap the tank out and then refill that other tank as the second tank is flying so it's pretty simple it's really nothing too complicated and that way we are like a battery where we can just simply swap out and just get multiple flights in a day without really much stop other than that just we're gonna have to worry about just handling your you're charging set up your your tank charging your tank filling set up and you have to worry about what you're gonna do with your empty tanks and your full tanks but I don't see this you're not going to be charging in the hotel any on a jobsite this you can fill these tanks up in just a few minutes and you're good to go so I think this will make the on the job site a little bit easier than the lithium batteries because you won't have be having to deal with so many typos so for on the job site it's great pretty easy so next up how did I kind of stumble on to this well I'm really lucky to be honest the awesome folks and the awesome team and intelligent energy reached out to me and saw that I'm a custom drone manufacturer and that I take power systems and such and integrate them into drones for customers and so far it's been really good it's been such a learning experience and I couldn't be working with a better group of people so intelligent energy once again they're based out of the UK and they've been making these fuel cells for over 20 years they've been making fuel cells for scooters and dirt bikes and automobiles whatever it may be so they've turned their focus to the UAV industry lucky for us right so they've identified the UAV industry as a perfect candidate for hydrogen fuel cells and so now they're making these stacks for the drone market so they've already got a fuel cell out there a 800 watt system that's working with a DJI m100 so I mitrice 100 and it's doing great you can even take two of those and put them together to create a 1.6 kilowatt system for a larger drone and now this is their newly unveiled 2.4 kilowatt system for the mitrice 641 earth such as this the MFD 3000 so I really think these guys are serious they're they're a key player I think it's going to take a company like this to come into the drone industry and with or their experience and their knowledge and really help this excel to another level so once again this exact one is just a demo version this is just a mock-up version but they have successfully flown this you can look up a press release they did on a project they called Project Rachel where they did fly a believable 13 pounds maybe even 15 pounds payload for about 45 minutes so so this is in the works it's already flying I just can't wait to actually have this one in the air so another one that you guys are probably all wondering by now how much this is cost well with any new technology any new emerging technology the cost is gonna be a little higher until it gets method option and with economies of scale the price can come down so because this is so new and such revolutionary technology I believe the cost of a drone like this would be about two to two-and-a-half times the cost of a drone of similar size but a battery version but with that I don't think that that's necessarily ridiculous so if we were to look at batteries and just maybe put a cost together of airtime a cost for airtime or a cost for batteries and the batteries situation you know that flight that flight time really comes at a valuable price so being able to fly for an hour versus 20 minutes well can we put a price on that so I think that that's definitely something to keep in mind and then also compared to batteries most of my customers are going with charging solutions that range anywhere from three to ten thousand dollars depending on how big their outfit is I mean some even twelve fifteen thousand dollars just in chargers alone and then they're spending maybe ten to fifteen thousand dollars worth of lithium batteries so these professional drone service companies are really buying into the infrastructure that allows them to fly all day long with batteries and chargers so at a higher cost of a fuel cell with longer flight time it really makes sense I don't think it's totally unreasonable right now it's just at that point where the companies who understand this value are gonna hop in early I have a feeling and then maybe once the price comes down maybe at that point more can begin to experiment and get a drone that's hydrogen fuel cell powered so that's just my guess now when it comes to the cost per flight of the hydrogen itself let's look at the various scenarios so if we look at the tank refilling service like a company like igx offers I would guess it's gonna be about maybe 30 to 35 bucks for a tank like this to get it filled up then the shipping cost and hazmat fees and such but I think you'd end up being maybe like 30 $35 a flight which that thing's pretty costly but the barrier to entry is hardly non-existent you don't need to buy any other tools so you can just simply receive filled hydrogen tanks and send away your empties so that's definitely one thing you can consider another way you can look at it and the method that I would probably go myself if I was a professional drone service provider is getting a filling station myself so where I can order like a kei tank a k-type tank from an industrial gas supply company and then I can just fill up my tanks and from the calls I've made and running some basic numbers it seems to me like it's gonna cost about maybe six to ten dollars per flight if I fill up my own tanks so that's like an hour flight with a six liter tank and getting that K type tank in will be anywhere from forty to seventy dollars depending on how many tanks I'm getting in at a time so as I made the reference before if I'm a welder or if I have a propane powered forklift in the warehouse I'm getting in all sorts of gases anyway so bringing in hydrogen isn't that unreasonable so then it comes to the generator system you need itself for the compressor the pump that you need to take and pressurize from like a K tank like a big tank you know five feet tall nine inches in diameter so you're gonna need a pump that's going to be able to take the hydrogen from the low-pressure K tank and fill it up to that 300 bar for the actual flight tank and a pump like that seems like it's gonna cost around 10,000 bucks once again you can evaluate that cost with like a battery charging station and it's not completely unreasonable I think it's pretty fair so really that's it so you've got the cost of the tank the cost of the fuel cell and then the cost to get them filled so I think in general at scale once you're going you're gonna be anywhere from 6 to 10 bucks a flight for the hydrogen itself and then 2 to 2 and a half time the cost of a battery-powered drone to get into a hydrogen fuel cell powered drug so not that unreasonable especially in the early days and finally when when is this gonna happen when is this aircraft going to take flight so from what I'm hearing from intelligent energy this 2.4 module is going to be available towards the end of this year and the beginning of next year so the beginning of 2020 so I would certainly hope that just as soon as these are released I can get one airborne and hopefully get some flight time on it and begin evaluating it and see how it actually does work maybe make some more informative videos to help you guys out if you're in the market for a long-range heavy lifting drone you know you can see we're gonna be getting into so I would expect beginning of next year we're really gonna start to see these rollout as I said these guys are already producing hydrogen fuel cells for the drone market so they've done it it's not their first product they certainly know how to do it so I don't expect this to be a huge delay and because of R&D and everything they've already proved it it's going to work so I think it's really gonna be great I just can't wait to have one in hand and actually see it fly in person and so there we have it that is a complete rundown of a hydrogen fuel cell powered drone as it stands right now here in the second quarter of 2019 so if you made it this far congrats if you're like me you probably have more questions than anything at this point when I first heard of hydrogen fuel cell powered drones I didn't even know the questions to ask and the more that I learned the more questions that I had so I hope that this helped kind of get you in the mindset to maybe ask some more of those questions or begin to think of the workflow and how this could possibly help you in your business so once again this is coming towards the end of this year beginning of next year but there's one more cool thing that I did not mention that is possibly the coolest aspect of this hydrogen fuel cell so as I mentioned previously intelligent energy has an 800 watt system that you can put together with another one to create 1.6 kilowatts well they did it for this one too so this is a 2.4 kilowatt system I can take another one of these put it with an additional 2.4 kilowatt system and I can make a 4.8 kilowatt system to give you an idea my MFD 5000 heavy lift drone we could lift like 30 pounds with that with that available power now we'd be overweight we would require a overweight waiver but that would allow us to fly full-blown movie cameras for an hour that changes the game right there that changes the game this is game changing that's why I'm so excited about this I think that this is just the the tip of the iceberg so many cool things are going to come of this technology I firmly believe it that I really just can't wait to see it happen so thank you guys for watching so once again if you have any questions at all and think that this might be a good solution for you or your business feel free to hit me up I'd be happy to answer any questions that I can you can email me you can hit me up on all the social channels go to my website watts innovations calm and you can check it out also intelligent energy calm you can see a lot more information there on the fuel cell and what they've got going on so yeah I think this is just incredible technology we're just at the beginning and can't wait to see where it goes if you are heading to a UVs I next week in Chicago feel free to swing by my booth check this out in person you can say hello we could talk drones and you can talk to you more about this in particular and yeah hopefully get a lot more content and video out there maybe some Q&A and stuff so anyway thank you so much for watching I do appreciate it and I will see you guys next time thanks again

As someone who works in the industrial drone industry, we all share one common problem: flight time… we can never get enough! That is until today.

I am happy to announce a partnership between my company (Watts Innovations) and Intelligent Energy out of the UK. They are a Hydrogen Fuel Cell manufacturer who have recently shifted their focus to the UAV market. They have recently created the most powerful commercially available Hydrogen Fuel Cell for the UAV market and I am fortunate enough to be working with them on a concept drone to show its capabilities.

At this time, this 2.4kW fuel cell is still in the prototype stages, but will be ready for real world flight testing in Q4 of 2019 and for sale in Q1 of 2020.

I truly feel this piece of technology is game changing. In this video, I cover the top 12 FAQ’s I came up with in regards to how Hydrogen Fuel Cells would work in the drone market. This video focuses on the technology and the benefits it could provide to the market.

If you are in the industrial drone market and are looking for longer flight times but want to continue having a reasonable work flow on site, do you see this technology as a viable alternative to using Lithium Batteries? Let me know in the comments!

Video Breakdown:

5:03 What is a Hydrogen Fuel Cell?
6:38 Is a Drone a Suitable Platform For A Hydrogen Fuel Cell? How about a Car?
9:27 What are the Necessary Components Required for a Hydrogen Fuel Cell System?
11:27 How is a Fuel Cell Going to Power the Drone? Does it Have a Backup Power Source?
15:20 Why Does Energy Density Matter So Much? What Does This Allow?
20:20 How Does This Compare To Other Types of Hybrid Solutions Such as Gasoline Generators?
24:23 How Do I Fill The Tanks? What’s Involved?
27:55 How Safe Is This?
30:32 What’s The Work Flow Like At The Job Site?
32:38 Who Manufactures The Fuel Cell? More Info?
34:43 How Much Will It Cost And What’s The Associated Costs of Ownership?
39:11 When Will It Be Available? When Can I See One Fly?

More information on this aircraft here:

Special thanks to:
Intelligent Energy:
Phoenix LiDAR Systems:

As always, please be sure to email or message me with any questions you may have, I’d be happy to answer anything I can for you.

Thanks for watching!

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