BUFFALO, N.Y., 28 Jan. 2009. NanoDynamics Energy in Buffalo, N.Y., won a $1.78 million grant from the U.S. Office of Naval Research (ONR) to develop a solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) to power tactical unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
The grant will pay for developing a flight-weight system with a 300-Watt power supply to propel the UAV and operate its sensors and communication systems.
"This program will capitalize on the technical breakthroughs we have demonstrated in small, lightweight, high power density systems for soldier-carried applications," says Caine Finnerty, vice president of fuel cells at NanoDynamics Energy. "Our efforts will be focused toward scaling up this technology while maintaining the efficiency and mass characteristics required for a flight-weight SOFC.
"Earlier battery and fuel cell systems posed limitations on both sensor system weight and power, as well as flight time," Finnerty explains. "In addition, the fuel cells used previously were driven by hydrogen, which is not readily available in most tactical operation environments."
NanoDynamics will apply cell stack technology and fuel reforming to achieve required system weight and efficiency. Engineers also will use work done for the Pentagon's Wearable Power Prize competition.
"Once refined, this system will provide a solution for military UAVs by creating a lightweight platform capable of powering more complex devices and exceptional flight times, factors which are in high demand," says Paul DeWald, NanoDynamics Energy lead engineer for the program.
For more information contact NanoDynamics online at www.nanodynamics.com.