Drone hydrogen fuel cell powerpack

Republic of Korea,  United States


While drones have a significant potential in a wide range of applications such as efficient deliveries and as carriers of sensors for mapping and inspection, the deployment of drone technology is impeded by their limited range. This initiative aims to develop a hydrogen fuel cell power pack to increase air time while also cutting the downtime for charging between flights.


To achieve this, research is ongoing regarding the membrane-electrode assembly (MEA) of the ultra-light and portable polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell (PEMFC). The novel membrane-electrode assembly promises improved performance while simultaneously decreasing the weight of the fuel cells to make them suitable for drones.

This project considers the development of a high performance and durable MEA for PEMFCs under dry conditions and investigates the relationship between accelerated degradation test procedures and real life operation of the MEA under normal operation to provide a feasible durability test. A model system for MEAs in dry conditions is established for efficient water and heat management and an air-cooled passive-type fuel cell stack design is demonstrated through simulation and comparison with real operation results. The goal is the development and demonstration of ultra-light MEA stacks in weight-laden drones for long-term flying.


A fuel cell-powered drone could set a new non-stop flight time record. A two-hour flight time, which is the aim of this project, with a large payload could create many opportunities in many commercial markets and sectors.