Neah Power partners to integrate fuel cells into UAV

By Emily Aasand | October 16, 2014

Neah Power Systems Inc. announced its partnership with Silent Falcon UAS Technologies to integrate the formic acid reformer-based (Formira) fuel cell technology into the Silent Falcon UAV.

According to Silent Falcon UAS Technologies, a product development supplier that creates technologies for sUAS including sensor technology, alternative materials, component design or aerodynamics, the fuel cell could greatly increase the mission endurance up to three times the current duration, as well as allow for heavier payloads. The company explains, “Formic acid is a safe, energy defense fuel, allowing easy handling, distribution, and refueling in remote locations worldwide, unlike compressed hydrogen.”

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Silent Falcon UAS Technologies,” said Chris D’Couto, president and CEO of Neah Power Systems. “We are looking forward to this joint development of extending the mission endurance for their UAS. The Formira technology uses a liquid fuel, and is a very attractive energy option as it does not have the low energy density, safety and handling challenges of compressed hydrogen.”

Silent Falcon’s UAS targets commercial form mining surveys, mineral exploration, pipeline monitoring for the oil and gas industry, and monitoring and inspection for infrastructure (dams, levees, bridges) and power grids. The Formira-based fuel cells biggest advantage, according to both companies, is the extra endurance and the additional ability to carry bigger payloads due to a stronger platform with extended night endurance, its solar propulsion system, rugged composite structure, and three interchangeable wing configurations. The unit is also an all composite system that has a 12-hour endurance.

“I believe the biggest advantage to having a Neah fuel cell on board Silent Falcon will not only be the extra endurance, but the ability to carry heavier and power hungry payloads,” said John Brown, CEO of Silent Falcon. “This is already one of our most important competitive differentiators and is what is attracting lots of folks to our products. Neah will also give us the ability to offer extended endurance at night. We look forward to integrating this technology into our UAV for a demonstrable performance advantage and the ability to serve an even wider range of markets and applications.”