Hypower Lab, a South Korean-based hydrogen company, has announced it will work to commercialize a hydrogen fuel cell drone.

The research-and-development company said using fuel cells can increase the flying time of a drone more than four times over traditional lithium-ion batteries. It envisions the drones being used for parcel delivery, agriculture, freight and even passenger transportation.

Hypower is working with the fuel cell research center under the Institute of Problems of Chemical Physics (IPCP) of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS). The companies announced the completion of their development process.

Yury Dobrovlsky, who leads the IPCP RAS research center, said the combination of Russian hydrogen fuel cell technology and Korean artificial intelligence technology will lead to mass production of the drone at competitive prices.

“We will lead the popularization of drone aircraft in the delivery drone commercialization market that needs around 3 million commercial drones in 2025 by establishing the hydrogen fuel cell mass production system exclusively for drones in South Korea,” he said.

The companies will work to develop drones for multiple applications in both Russia and South Korea.

The drone, which has a flight time of over three hours, Hypower said, features a 12-liter fuel canister with 4.8 hours of battery life.

Hypower is not the only company working on hydrogen-powered drones. Doosan Mobility Innovation (DMI) announced it had successfully tested a hydrogen-powered drone in a humanitarian delivery.

In February, DMI said it would seek European Union approval for its hydrogen fuel cell powerpack for drones later this year. The pack provides 2.6 kilowatts of power for two hours of flight time.

DMI plans to sell its product in Europe, Korea, the U.S. and China.

To help solve the problem of transporting hydrogen to drones, Intelligent Energy, a U.K.-based company, has developed a hydrogen transport cylinder – the IE-Soar – that features a high-pressure valve.

Currently, the legal transport of hydrogen in Europe and the U.S. is limited.

“We know our fuel cells are the ideal choice for UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) operators requiring longer flight time. However, it is important that we support [these efforts] with the peripherals required to get operational. This valve is a key enabler and will make it simple for our customers to get their full cylinders where they need them and ready to use,” Andy Kelly, head of UAV product development at Intelligent Energy, said.

Click for more Modern Shipper articles by Brian Straight.

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