Hydrogen in the RPAS industry – Hydrogen has gained significant attention as a clean and renewable fuel source, and for good reason. Its production results in only water and heat, making it a pollution-free alternative to traditional fossil fuels. As countries around the world, including Australia, work towards achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, Australian companies are investing in hydrogen research and development to reduce their carbon footprint.
Australia has abundant renewable energy resources, such as wind and solar power, which can be utilized to produce hydrogen through electrolysis. This puts the country in a favorable position to become a leader in the hydrogen economy and provide a sustainable and renewable energy source for industries such as aviation.
In recent years, we have seen an increasing number of companies and universities incorporating hydrogen technology into their operations. For example, Swinburne University’s airhub received a grant from the Department of Infrastructure Emerging Aviation Technology program to incorporate hydrogen into a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) drone. Additionally, leading drone and robotics retailers such as C3 drones and Robotics have imported and distributed hydrogen drones and fuel cells from Doosan Mobility Innovation, offering longer flight times and more efficient energy use.
Hydrogen fuel cell technology offers several benefits over traditional battery-powered drones, including higher efficiency and cost-effectiveness. However, it requires specific operational, handling, and maintenance procedures to ensure safety and compliance. Companies that incorporate hydrogen-powered drones into their operations must have specific procedures for pre and post-flight operations, emergency procedures, handling and storage of hydrogen, transportation of hydrogen, and maintenance procedures.
While there are currently no additional qualifications required for remote pilots of hydrogen-powered drones, it is recommended to adapt internal training that covers all the necessary procedures to ensure safe handling and operation of the fuel cell systems. This will ensure compliance and minimise risks.
In conclusion, the adoption of hydrogen as an energy source in the aviation industry, including drones, offers a promising solution for reducing carbon emissions and achieving sustainability goals. As countries invest in hydrogen research and development, we can expect to see more widespread adoption of hydrogen fuel cell technologies in the aviation industry. However, safe and compliant operations are crucial, and companies must develop and implement specific procedures for handling and operating hydrogen-powered drones. Contact Hover UAV for assistance in incorporating hydrogen into your CASA Operations manual.