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Why aren't drones and aircraft using hydrogen-oxygen fuel cells?

  1. Nov 6, 2014 #1
    I've heard they were much more efficient then li-ion batteries and anything else really.. and drones today are all about flight time, wouldn't hydrogen fuel cells result in a great flight time advantage? why are they not in use?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 6, 2014 #2

    Doug Huffman

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    Too low energy density. Expensive storage systems. Expensive fuel. Expensive motor.
  4. Nov 6, 2014 #3


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    Most of the power on aircraft today comes from the engines. The batteries are used as emergency backup in case of a failure, which means that the batteries efficiency are not a major cause of flight time reduction
  5. Nov 6, 2014 #4
    The motor is an electric motor, they are the same as for normal li-ion batteries.

    Energy density of hydrogen gas is yes, large which I must admit, having a gas tank for hydrogen in a drone would certainly make things more expensive I admit.

    I am not meaning conventional aircraft but electric aircraft as in drones that use electric motors. Hydrogen fuel cells generate electricity from hydrogen and oxygen
  6. Nov 6, 2014 #5


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    Wow im a dummy.
    Shows how you can get locked into one idea!
  7. Nov 6, 2014 #6


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    A picture of the last aircraft which used hydrogen in a big way (but not for power):


    The Hindenburg​
  8. Nov 6, 2014 #7


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    Energy density of hydrogen gas compared to Li-Ion batteries is very low
    the batteries give you the "best bang for buck"

    Last edited: Nov 6, 2014
  9. Nov 6, 2014 #8


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    Alas, there's always going to be one passenger who ignores the "No Smoking" sign.
  10. Nov 6, 2014 #9
    Yup, Lithium batteries aren't too shabby.. especially the high end ones have mad energy density; http://eu.nkon.nl/rechargeable/18650-size/r-panasonic-ncr18650b-button-top.html [Broken] this is just mindblowing..

    Anyways yeah you guys are right, hydrogen fuel cells are complex and spacey... which is exactly the opposite of what a drone needs, drones have to be as light and neat as possible. It's probably more of a thing for cars, I think a number of electric cars actually this tech
    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
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