Optimizing Endurance and Power Consumption of Fixed-Wing Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Powered by Proton-Exchange Membrane Fuel Cells

Gubran A.Q. Abdulrahman, Naef A.A. Qasem*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are increasingly powered by proton-exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs), providing longer endurance and shorter charging/fueling times. They are used for various tasks, from aerial photography to military missions. The present study explores the best scenarios for driving fixed-wing UAVs using PEMFCs, considering different weights up to 25 kg. By optimizing the UAVs' main design and performance parameters, both efficiency and endurance are aimed to be enhanced. The considered input design variables are the rate of climb, hydrogen energy density, the amount of hydrogen fuel, and cruise altitude for different aspect ratios and cruise speeds. The results show that PEMFCs-UAVs could fly continuously for a long time (> 5 h), which is impossible with other clean methods like batteries. Also, the optimization results show 3.76 times endurance enhancement compared to similar reported vehicles in the literature. The hydrogen storage system is between 1.6 and 2.9 kg for the investigated takeoff weights. For a 6.5 kg UAV with a fuel cells power density of 580 Wh/kg, the UAV can fly for 17.15 h endurance with a total power consumption of < 1 kWh and a hydrogen system of 2.9 kg.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2605-2623
Number of pages19
JournalArabian Journal for Science and Engineering
Volume49
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals 2023.

Keywords

  • Endurance
  • Integration
  • Optimization
  • PEMFC
  • Power consumption
  • UAV

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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