Canadian Manufacturing

Protonex supplying fuel-cell systems to U.S. Navy for UAV trials

Protonex, a subsidiary of Vancouver-based Ballard, makes systems that extend unmanned aerial vehicle flight duration and range, while minimizing noise


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VANCOUVER — Ballard Power Systems’ Protonex subsidiary has received purchase orders from the U.S. Navy for 13 hydorgen fuel-cell propulsion systems for unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) or drone platforms.

Financial details were not available.

Protonex, which has supplied proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell systems for the Ion Tiger UAV program, is providing a variant of its 600 watt PEM fuel cell propulsion system for the Hybrid Tiger UAV program.

Phil Robinson, Protonex vice-president of Unmanned Systems said, “We have been working with the US Navy for a decade to optimize our fuel cell propulsion system and deliver key benefits, including long range, quiet operation, high reliability, minimal vibration and low maintenance. It is exciting to put our innovative design to the ultimate test in rigorous operating conditions with an important customer.”

The Hybrid Tiger UAV was designed by the US Naval Research Laboratory to explore new power system technologies for UAV propulsion. High efficiency fuel cells are expected to enable greater endurance than the 26 hours demonstrated by Ion Tiger in 2009.

Protonex systems extend flight duration and range, while minimizing noise. They operate in all types of environments and at high altitudes.

Ballard Power Systems is a developer of fuel cell technology based in Vancouver. Protonex is based in Southborough, Ma.

This story was originally published in PLANT.


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