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Florida, Israeli agencies fund UAV hydrogen fuel cell R&D

Israeli and U.S. companies have won a grant to jointly develop a hydrogen fuel cell system for a small unmanned aerial vehicle.

By Richard Tomkins
Florida, Israeli agencies fund UAV hydrogen fuel cell R&D
Research into hydrogen fuel cells to power IAI's Bird Eye mini-UAV is being funded by Israeli and Florida organizations. Photo courtesy Israel Aerospace Industries

LOD, Israel, July 23 (UPI) -- A research and development grant has been given to Israel Aerospace Industries and Cella Energy for a fuel cell system for an unmanned aerial vehicle.

The grant -- the amount was not disclosed -- was awarded by Space Florida, the State of Florida's aerospace and spaceport development authority, and MATIMOP, Israel's Industrial Center for Research and Development.

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IAI said the grant was given under the Florida-Israel Innovation Partnership Program because of the near-term potential for commercialization and economic benefit for both Florida and Israel.

IAI said its project with Cella Energy of Florida, an advanced materials company dealing with hydrogen energy alternatives, is to develop and evaluate a fuel cell power system for IAI's BirdEye Mini UAV which could double or even triple the UAV's flight duration at the same battery weight.

Cella's proprietary hydrogen technology provides a low-weight, high-performance alternative to lithium-polymer batteries typically used in small UAVs. The technology uses a plastic-like hydrogen storage material that can be pressed and shaped into any form.

"Combining IAI's legacy of excellence in aerospace manufacturing with Cella's technological expertise in hydrogen storage could result in a UAV of unmatched performance," said Stephen Bennington, managing director of Cella Energy. "We will be looking to expand our U.S. capabilities at the Kennedy Space Center to deliver this program."

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