Technology of SUAV

What are we aiming for?

SUAV aims to design, optimize and build a 100-200W mSOFC stack, and to integrate it into a hybrid power system comprising the mSOFC stack and a battery. Additional components of the system are a fuel processor to generate reformate gas from propane and other equipment for the electrical, mechanical and control balance of plant (BoP).

All these components will be constituents of an entire fuel cell power generator which will first be tested in the lab and, after further optimization and miniaturization, in a mini UAV platform. SUAV is primarily aiming at the CopterCity UAV platform from Survey Copter (France) but will consider other options (in particular fixed wing vehicles) too.

Propane was chosen as the fuel due to its superior energy density compared to hydrogen, whichever storage technique is used. The SOFC was chosen since it can convert reformate (i.e. CO/H2-mixtures) to electricity, as compared to other types of fuel cell that require very pure hydrogen, which significantly reduces effort and complexity of fuel processing.

The design of the mSOFC power generator will be primarily driven by the weight and volume available in the mini-UAV. The project intends to optimize mission duration, while efficiency is of less concern. It will open opportunities for exploitation in other weight-limited man-portable applications.