Innovative Hybrid Fuel Cell for Unmanned Aircraft Vehicles

 Innovative Hybrid Fuel Cell for Unmanned Aircraft Vehicles

Kent State University’s College of Aeronautics and Engineering (CAE) developed an innovative hybrid fuel cell capacitor that prolongs the flight time of unmanned aircraft vehicles (UAVs), the first hybrid fuel cell battery capacitor specifically developed for commercial UAVs.

The project team, led by Dr. Yanhai Du, professor in Kent State’s CAE and principal investigator at Kent State’s Fuel Cell Research Lab, developed a lightweight-high-energy-density onboard power source that enables vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) type aircraft to have potentially increased flight time and increased payload.

With 118 minutes of operation, the flight surpassed the 60-minute goal that the team set for the flight, Du said.

Unmanned vehicle flies with new hybrid fuel cell


“The 118 minutes operation only consumed 40% of the fuel tank capacity,” Du said. “This is the promise that the technology can work - and work well - if we get enough fuel in the tank. We proved that the hybrid power source works in the lab for 12-hours continuous operation, and for flight time it will really depend on how much fuel we can carry.”

Du presented his results July 19, 2022, at one of the world’s largest aerospace events, the Farnborough International Airshow in London, England.

The Ohio Federal Research Network (OFRN) played a role in initial funding of the project and its successful completion. It was developed from January 2020 through May 2022. OFRN is an Ohio-wide research and development funding program managed by Parallax Advanced Research in collaboration with The Ohio State University and funded by the Ohio Department of Higher Education. Its mission is to “foster statewide university and industry research collaborations that meet mission-critical need of Ohio’s federal laboratories.”

The project team included Kent State, Case Western Reserve University, NASA Glenn Research Center, University of Dayton Research Institute (UDRI), Wright State University, Event 38 Unmanned Systems Inc., Air Force Research Laboratory, and Army Research Laboratory.

The OFRN team is proud and honored to have a role in research occurring here in Ohio, according to Matt Bush, Parallax Advanced Research Program Manager for OFRN.

“What the Kent State and Event 38 team accomplished proves that the best ideas come out of the academic-small business-government collaborations, and best of all they have the power to change how we travel and distribute goods and services,” Bush said. “OFRN looks forward to seeing what’s next for this technology and team, and we’re honored to be along for the ride.”

About Kent State University’s College of Aeronautics and Engineering

From aeronautics to technology to engineering, the College of Aeronautics and Engineering is a top tech school. Kent State offers the largest flight-training program in Ohio. It is recognized by major airlines and the U.S. military as one of the topflight schools and as having one of the best university aviation programs in the country. Connect and learn more about Kent State’s research and graduate programs and visit its website at

About the OFRN

The OFRN has the mission to stimulate Ohio’s innovation economy by building statewide university-industry research collaborations that meet the requirements of Ohio’s federal laboratories, resulting in the creation of technologies that drive job growth for the State of Ohio.

About Parallax Advanced Research

Parallax is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that tackles global challenges by accelerating innovation and developing technology and solutions through strategic partnerships with government, industry, and academia across Ohio and the Nation. Together with academia, Parallax accelerates innovation that leads to breakthroughs. Together with the government, Parallax tackles critical global challenges and delivers new solutions. Together with the industry, Parallax develops groundbreaking ideas and speeds them to market.

POSTED: Friday, April 8, 2022 12:00 AM
UPDATED: Friday, June 14, 2024 02:47 AM