The Naval Research Laboratory's Ion Tiger, a hydrogen-powered fuel cell unmanned air vehicle (UAV), has flown 26 hours and 1 minute carrying a five-pound payload, setting an unofficial flight endurance record for a fuel-cell powered flight, according to a press release from the research lab.
The 37-pound Ion Tiger is a hydrogen-powered fuel cell UAV in development at the Naval Research Laboratory, the corporate laboratory of the Office of Naval Research (ONR). Previously flown with battery power, it has demonstrated sound aerodynamics, high functionality, and low-heat and noise signatures.
The electric fuel cell propulsion system onboard the Ion Tiger reportedly boasts four times the efficiency of a comparable internal combustion engine, and the system provides seven times the energy in the equivalent weight of batteries.
The Ion Tiger fuel cell system development team is led by NRL and includes Protonex Technology Corporation, HyperComp Engineering, and Arcturus UAV. The program is sponsored by the Office of Naval Research.
The research center hopes to increase the power of the fuel cell to 1.5 kW, or 2 horsepower with the goal of extending flight times to 3 days while powering tactical payloads.
To see the Ion Tiger in flight, check out this video
from the Office of Naval Research.