First successful flight test for the hydrogen-powered Mermoz drone
Objective: to design and manufacture a very long-range light electric drone demonstrator based on a hydrogen chain, to document the technological barriers and to develop a numerical model of the hydrogen chain that can be applied to future developments of aircraft using the same energy vector.
H2PULSE is proud to actively participate in the “Drone Mermoz” project initiated by the Institut Supérieur de l’Aéronautique et de l’Espace (ISAE-SUPAERO), started in 2018 in partnership with H3 Dynamics and in collaboration with academic partners, ENAC, LAAS-CNRS, LAPLACE, supported by the Occitanie region and the FEDER fund.
On January 20, 2023, the first “Drone Mermoz” demonstrator using gaseous hydrogen successfully completed its first radio-controlled flight on the runway of the aeromodelling club of Muret in the Toulouse region (31). The demonstrator, with a 4-meter wingspan, has a design inspired by albatrosses, which exploit atmospheric turbulence to fly for a very long time while limiting their efforts. The next step is to carry out long-duration flight tests (several hours) in autonomous mode (unmanned).
This project paves the way for the “Mermoz Challenge”, organized by ISAE-SUPAERO and DELAIR, which aims to make a CO2-free crossing of the South Atlantic by 2025 using the historic route of Jean Mermoz, a pioneer of the Aéropostale.
Equipped with an electric propulsion system powered by hydrogen and solar cells, the drone used in this Mermoz Challenge will follow the route of the famous aviator, who left Saint-Louis in Senegal on May 12, 1930, to reach Natal in Brazil 21 hours later with a load of 130 kg of mail.
To cover such a distance, the fuel cell system supplying electricity to the engine requires a large quantity of hydrogen. To reduce the volume dedicated to the storage of hydrogen in the fuselage, this hydrogen will be cooled and stored in its liquid phase, at cryogenic temperatures.
H2PULSE is proud to have supported the “Drone Mermoz” project team by testing the fuel cell and the energy chain that surrounds it, from hydrogen storage to the integration of the module in the fuselage. And the adventure continues…