Proton Conducting Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (PC-SOFC) for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV)
C. Kjolseth, P. Vestre
Protia AS, NO
Keywords: Energy storage, fuel cells, unmanned aerial vehicles
Abstract:A novel proton conducting ceramic membrane sits at the core of a new fuel cell system that is especially well suited for use with butane, propane or ammonia fuels to create lightweight propulsion systems for small unmanned aircraft. The new proton conducting solid oxide fuel cells (PC-SOFC) operate on temperatures around 600C and have significantly better performance characteristics than both traditional SOFC as well as PEM fuel cells. The core electrolyte material is Ca-doped LaNbO4, a proton conductor initially developed by scientists at the University of Oslo, Norway, published in Nature Materials and recognized by both government funding agencies and private venture capital investors as a highly promising candidate for future advanced energy systems. The European Union (EU) awarded Euro 3 million (USD 3.8 million) for further research and development in 2008, while Norwegian government and private venture capital investors have committed a further USD 6.4 million, bringing total R&D funding for the next three years above USD 10 million. The nearest term commercial opportunity for proton conducting fuel cells reside in small unmanned aircraft currently using electrical propulsion systems, where a significant performance advantage of more than 400% exists over Li-ion batteries (as measured in system specific energy, Wh/kg).