• 3 minutes Nucelar Deal Is Dead? Iran Distances Itself Further From ND, Alarming Russia And France
  • 5 minutes Don Jr. Tweets name Ukraine Whistleblower, Eric Ciaramella. Worked for CIA during Obama Administration, Hold over to Trump National Security Counsel under Gen McCallister, more . . . .
  • 9 minutes Shale pioneer Chesepeak will file bankruptcy soon. FINALLY ! The consolidation begins
  • 12 minutes China's Blueprint For Global Power
  • 6 hours EU has already lost the Trump vs. EU Trade War
  • 14 hours Judge Orders Trump To Release Tax Returns
  • 2 hours Who writes this stuff? "Crude Prices Swing Between Gains, Losses"
  • 2 hours Climate Change Consensus Shifts in Wind, But Gas Is Still the Right Move
  • 3 hours World oil demand will keep growing until 2030, climate-damaging emissions longer, says IEA
  • 9 hours Shale Gas News – November 9, 2019
  • 11 hours ''Err ... but Trump ...?'' #thedonkeystays
  • 5 hours Does .001 of Atmosphere Control Earth's Climate?!
  • 15 hours Offshore SE Asia: Offshore OFS Could Get Major Boost in SE Asia
  • 5 hours Atty General Barr likely subpeona so called whistleblower and "leaker" Eric Ciaramella
  • 14 hours The lies and follies of the "cry wolf" enviros: No more fire in the kitchen: Cities are banning natural gas in homes to save the planet
  • 15 hours Saudi Aramco IPO Will Not Save Kingdom
  • 5 hours Joe Biden, his son Hunter Biden, Ukraine Oil & Gas exploration company Burisma, and 2020 U.S. election shenanigans
  • 15 hours China's Renewables Boom Hits the Wall
Alt Text

Is Hydrogen The New LNG?

The appeal of commercial hydrogen…

Irina Slav

Irina Slav

Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.

More Info

Premium Content

Is This A Game Changer For Drones?

Drones are making inroads into the oil and gas industry, and these inroads could very well turn into highways for this technology in an industry that features a lot of surveillance and inspection work. Thanks to drones, this work can now be done remotely—but there is one problem with the dominant kind of drones that are fed power by batteries: they don’t last very long in the air.

Typical battery drone flight times are seldom above 30 minutes, but surveys and inspections of oilfields and equipment could take hours. This means extra time for battery replacement and charging, but there is one alternative to battery-powered drones that is offering great time savings: drones powered by hydrogen fuel cells.

Fuel cell technology has been unable to garner the attention that batteries are still attracting as the future of power, but they are still a topic of conversation because of all the benefits they offer. For drones, these benefits begin with much, much longer flight times than battery-powered drones. We are talking about hours rather than minutes. Here are a few examples.

The Hycopter, the world’s first fuel cell drone, developed by Singapore-based H3 Dynamics, can stay in the air between one and a half and four hours with a payload of one kilo. The Hycopter’s developers were clever with the hydrogen storage, too. The fuel is actually stored in the drone’s tubular frame rather than in a separate tank.

Or take the drones developed by Intelligent Energy, a company with a long history in fuel cell development. The company boasts a combination of long flight times, clean energy, and quick refueling times, which make their fuel cell drones particularly suited for things like offshore platform inspections.

A Chinese company, MMC, has also joined the fuel cell drone party, claiming that its drones can refuel with hydrogen within 30-40 minutes as opposed to hours for recharging a lithium battery for battery-powered drones. Like the rest of them, MMC’s fuel cells are also lightweight, which is of crucial importance for flight times. Related: Deciphering The New Caspian Agreement

Light weight and fast refueling times are the slogan of another fuel cell drone maker, a unit of Ballard Power Systems. An additional benefit of this company’s products is a partnership between the drone maker and a network of hydrogen distributors that could deliver hydrogen anywhere in the United States, according to the parent company.

Access to hydrogen supply is one of the biggest problems with fuel cells. It is one of the reasons why this technology has failed to thrive, replaced by battery-powered hybrids and pure plug-ins. Another is the cost of the technology—fuel cell cars are a lot more expensive than EVs because of this. A third problem is the cost of hydrogen supply. Because the gas is highly flammable, transport is risky, hence it is costly.

Perhaps some of these problems become less challenging when compared to the cost of battery recharging times and the hassle of having to replace batteries several times to complete an inspection in the field. With flight times of up to—and even more—than four hours, it looks like fuel cell drones might have a brighter future than their counterparts in cars—developing a hydrogen fueling network and reducing the prices of fuel cell cars enough to make them more widely affordable are goals yet to be achieved. Cost and hydrogen supply challenges remain for fuel cell drones as well, but with the right motivation these could probably be overcome.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

More Top Reads From Oilprice.com:




Download The Free Oilprice App Today

Back to homepage



Leave a comment

Leave a comment




Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News
Download on the App Store Get it on Google Play