Today, the commercial UAV market is rapidly pacing forward, penetrating diverse business verticals like photography, surveillance, and agriculture. As many as 800,000 U.S. drone owners have registered to fly in the last one year. Furthermore, reports by several leading research firms suggest that the current market value of the drone industry is nearly $2 billion and the sector will be witnessing an annual market growth of almost 32 percent by 2022. However, the greatest obstacle in its path of growth is the flight time of UAVs. Powered by lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries, commercial drones usually offer around 30 minutes of flight time, which is not satisfactory performance. Driven to overcome this limitation, BMPower sets its foot in the drone landscape. BMPower brings a next-generation power supply system that uses hydrogen fuel, specifically built for drones. Affordable and easy-to-use, BMPower’s hydrogen fuel cells can store up to 4-6 times more energy than a contemporary Li-ion battery, increasing a drone’s flight time to nearly 4 hours. “Long flight time is no longer a far-fetched vision, but a reality,” says Alexey Ivanenko, partner and expert at BMPower. In the last one and a half years, the company has gained immense traction in the global UAV market and has accomplished 20 successful pilot projects all over the world.
BMPower’s fuel cell power system consists of four elements: a fuel cell module, a hydrogen cylinder with a pressure regulator, a control module with a DC-DC converter, and a buffer battery. “All these modules are designed in a unit that is light and compact—apt for UAVs,” says Ivanenko. Another significant aspect of BMPower’s fuel cell is its ability to reliably operate even at very low temperatures of up to -40F. To start using the power system, all that a drone pilot needs to do is connect the fuel cell’s wires to the drone’s engines. The control system will then automatically regulate the power produced by the fuel cells according to the demand. “It also stabilizes the output voltage to maximize the motor’s efficiency,” Ivanenko adds. At the end of a flight, the pilot can replace an empty cylinder with a refilled one and get ready for a new flight.
BMPower brings a next-generation power supply system that uses hydrogen fuel, specifically built for drones
In a nutshell, “Our sophisticated fuel cell system is as simple as using a Li-ion battery,” remarks Ivanenko.
Alongside, BMPower also ensures a simple refueling process for its hydrogen cells. Partnering with a multinational company Linde Gas, BMPower facilitates effortless hydrogen refueling in all the regions of the world where Linde Gas has a presence. BMPower also offers a portable autonomous refueling device that fills cylinders with high-pressure hydrogen using a chemical cartridge and water.
To illustrate the proficiency of the fuel cell system, Ivanenko cites the success story of a UK-based company, SRUAV. The company had developed an advanced surveillance UAV system, and wanted to increase the endurance of the flight from 40 minutes to 2 hours with payload. With BMPower’s hydrogen power system, the copter recorded an average flight time of 2.5 hours. The aircraft was also exhibited at the Farnborough Airshow in July 2018.
It is BMPower’s appetite for innovation that continues to propel the company forward. Ivanenko believes fuel cell systems have the potential to become a mass product in the future, “and we are already ahead of this innovation curve.” Striding ahead, the company intends to popularize its unique UAV power system globally. Concluding with a sneak peek of their future goals, Ivanenko says, “In 2019 we are going to open an office in China, which is considered the global leader in drone and robot production.”