Research Summaries

Back Multi-Day Endurance of a Group 2 UAS Utilizing Pacific Energy Sources

Fiscal Year 2016
Division Graduate School of Engineering & Applied Science
Department Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering
Investigator(s) Dobrokhodov, Vladimir N.
Sponsor Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (DoD)
Summary A four-year program aims to demonstrate a flight of Group 2 fixed wing UAS over Pacific-scale range and multi-day endurance that is presently unavailable. Team members include the NRL Tactical Electronic Warfare Division, NRL Electronics Division, NRL Chemistry Division, NRL Monterey Marine Meteorology Section, Pennsylvania State University (PSU), and Naval Postgraduate School (NPS).
The goal of this program is to develop and demonstrate a multi-day flight of Group 2 UAS at TRL 6. The proposed hybrid power system leverages DoD funded research in photovoltaic (PV) cells, autonomous soaring (AS) algorithms and fuel cell (FC) technologies. Furthermore, these technologies exploit abundant indigenous energy in the Pacific to minimize dependence on supply lines and maximize operational flexibility. The PV cells and AS algorithms harvest solar energy directly, while the hydrogen fuel can be produced locally using electricity from ground-based PV cells to electrolyze seawater. The extreme endurance and range of the proposed UAS are enabled by a hybrid electric power system that integrates PV cells, AS algorithms, and a hydrogen FC. Together these technologies are projected to enable flights of 4+ days and 3,000 nmi.
Technical Goals. The project proposes to design, build, and demonstrate a fixed wing UAS that can carry a small ISR payload on a 4+ day mission at altitudes below 10,000 ft in a PACOM environment. This program will focus on extracting the highest possible specific energy from the PV/FC/AS hybrid power system. This will be accomplished by (1) leveraging our knowledge of these technologies to build a hybrid system that combines their best attributes and (2) leveraging knowledge of the Pacific environment to operate the system optimally from an energy perspective.
Military Benefits. The military benefits of this program include greater operational capability, improved energy efficiency, and reduced reliance on supply lines for fuel. Specifically:
- Group 2 UAS with multi-day endurance and long range that opens new CONOPS options.
- High efficiency to reduce average fuel consumption per km traveled or hour in the air.
- Opportunity to generate fuel locally with native energy resources, eliminating fuel logistics burden.
This program specifically focuses on utilization of energy resources available in the Pacific area of responsibility (AOR).
Keywords Fuel Cell UAV energy independence intelligent autonomy long endurance solar power
Publications Publications, theses (not shown) and data repositories will be added to the portal record when information is available in FAIRS and brought back to the portal
Data Publications, theses (not shown) and data repositories will be added to the portal record when information is available in FAIRS and brought back to the portal