A prototype fuel cell for drones created by the company Intelligent Energy can last up to two hours in the air, all on power generated from hydrogen.

The development marks a huge watershed for the recreational and commercial drone industry, the latter of which requires up to a few hours' worth of flight time for general and basic operations. Luckily, Intelligent Energy's hydrogen-fueled drone has the capacity to stay up in the air for "several hours," according to a press release posted by the company via Businesswire.

To retain this amount of flight time with a severely reduced re-charge period, which takes mere minutes instead of hours, the drone utilizes a lightweight hydrogen fuel cell (technically a "hydrogen fuel cell powered range extender").

The company created an infographic (posted below) to prove why fuel cells are better for powering drones, citing easier refueling, better charge, faster speed, optimized and longer flight time, minimal vibration (which enables clearer drone-captured photos and video), and "zero emission energy from the electrical grid."

"Drones are one of the most exciting new technologies. Even with advanced batteries their value is limited. For commercial use, they need to offer better flight times and range," said Julian Hughes, Intelligent Energy's group business development director and acting managing director for the company's Consumer Electronics Division.

"That will all become possible with the release of our range-extender platform," he continued. "A longer flight time coupled with a quick re-fuel opens a wide range of new commercial possibilities for businesses such as drones for inspection of offshore platforms, search and rescue, high quality aerial photography, precision agriculture and parcel delivery and more. Given we also have the ability to tailor solutions to customer requirements, this could completely revolutionize the potential of drone technology."

Over the past 10 years, Intelligent Energy has collaborated closely with Boeing Phantom Works to produce the "first manned fuel cell aircraft in commercial airspace," and has had independent test runs with drones with a hybrid battery and fuel cell system. Their runs sported two respectively powered systems, one with a hydrogen fuel cell, and the other with a fuel cell-battery hybrid system, all recorded via video camera. According to the press statement, the flights resulted in undisturbed, uninterrupted airtime.

The company plans to showcase the drone with its fuel cell extender for the first time at CES in 2016, which will take place Jan. 6-9 in Las Vegas.

Intelligent Energy also plans to demo what it calls the first hydrogen-powered smartphones ever, which it announced this past August.

Via: The Next Web

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