WSU researchers trial liquid hydrogen for UAVs

Researchers at Washington State University have successfully demonstrated the use of liquid hydrogen as a unique fuelling system for powering unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

Described by the researchers as a major milestone, the test used a liquid hydrogen gas station to fill a liquid hydrogen tank, providing the hydrogen for a fuel cell power conversion system used to fly a medium-sized UAV, simulating the energy demands for a flight.

“Using hydrogen fuel for aviation is a hot topic,” said Jake Leachman, Associate Professor in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering who is leading the WSU project. “Folks are warming up to the idea, and we have gotten a few years head start. A UAV is a great testing ground,” he said.

“Many companies have attempted liquid hydrogen flights with a marginal record,” said Leachman, who started the student effort. “It says something about Patrick and Ian that this work has continued and is succeeding.”

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