Ultra-Compact Power System for Long-Endurance Small Unmanned Aerial Systems
Air-launched Small Unmanned Aerial Systems (SUASs) provide critical information to warfighters, but are currently limited by the power and energy available from small electric propulsion systems. This paper describes proof-of-concept testing of a novel power system for SUASs. The power system comprises a compact hydrogen generator and a hydrogen PEM fuel cell. The hydrogen generator uses ammonia borane (AB) as a solid chemical hydrogen storage material and heats the AB to produce hydrogen through thermal decomposition. The innovative ignition and control process generates highly pure hydrogen on-demand from a system that is very compact, lightweight, and rugged. We built a proof-of-concept hydrogen generator and used it to supply hydrogen to a small PEM fuel cell. The proof-of-concept generator used prototypical AB, heat source, control scheme, and purification media to absorb trace amounts of ammonia, borazine, and carbon monoxide (CO).