Design, Fabrication, and Testing of a 10 kW-hr H2-O2 PEM Fuel Cell Power System for High Altitude Balloon Applications
NASA Glenn Research Center and the Wallops Flight Facility jointly conducted a PEM fuel cell power system development effort for high altitude balloon applications. This was the first phase of NASA efforts to offer higher balloon payload power levels with extended duration mission capabilities for atmospheric science missions. At present, lead-acid batteries typically supply about 100 watts of power to the balloon payload for approximately 8 hours duration. The H2-O2 PEM fuel cell demonstration system developed for this effort can supply at least 200 watts for 48 hours duration. The system was designed and fabricated, then tested in ambient ground environments as well as in a thermal vacuum chamber to simulate operation at 75 kft. altitude. Initially, this program was planned to culminate with a demonstration flight test but no flight has been scheduled, thus far.