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Tiny Fuel Cell Lets Drones Fly More Than an Hour: Study

A team of South Korean researchers has developed a novel fuel cell that can let drones fly for more than an hour and can lead to smartphones batteries that need charge only once a week.

The unmanned arial vehicles (UAVs) generally have limited flight time owing to small battery capacity.

Professor Gyeong Man Choi and doctoral student Kun Joong Kim developed a miniaturised Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) to replace lithium-ion batteries in smartphones, laptops, drones and other small electronic devices at Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH).

The achievement has been highly evaluated because it can be utilised not only for a small fuel cell but also for a large-capacity fuel cell that can be used for a vehicle.

The SOFC, referred to as a third-generation fuel cell, has been intensively studied since it has a simple structure and no problems with corrosion or loss of the electrolyte.

This cell converts hydrogen into electricity by oxygen-ion migration to fuel electrode through an oxide electrolyte, said the paper published in the journal Scientific Reports.

For this, the research team developed a new technology that combines porous stainless steel, which is thermally and mechanically strong and highly stable to oxidation/reduction reactions, with thin-film electrolyte and electrodes of minimal heat capacity.

The research team now hopes to develop large and inexpensive fuel cells for a power source of next-generation automotive.

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