German-based Wingcopter and The ZAL Centre of Applied Aeronautical Research announced this week a collaboration to explore and develop hydrogen-powered delivery drones, reports a press release.
The release explains, “By refitting the battery-powered Wingcopter 198 to run on hydrogen, the plan is for the drone to not only continue to fly emission-free in the future, but to become even more powerful.” It continues, “The Wingcopter already achieves higher ranges and speeds than most competitors’ models thanks to the added lift of its wings and its aerodynamic design. However, hydrogen propulsion could ensure even longer flight times and thus enable correspondingly greater distances for different delivery applications.”
This modification of the Wingcopter is to take place at ZAL‘s ‘Fuel Cell Lab’ in Hamburg. In the past, ZAL engineers have already been able to achieve a flight duration of over two hours with the company’s own “ZALbatros” hydrogen drone. This was achieved by employing compressed gaseous hydrogen in combination with a fuel cell. A comparable technology is to be used in the Wingcopter.
Tom Plümmer, Wingcopter co-Founder and CEO, commented, “We have always wanted the Wingcopter to be able to fly even further. However, we categorically ruled out the installation of a conventional combustion engine right from the start with a view to the environment and climate change. We are happy to now explore technical possibilities in the field of hydrogen propulsion together with the ZAL experts and then put the best concept into practice.”
Roland Gerhards, CEO of ZAL, added, “With Wingcopter as our partner, we’re not only impressed by their drones’ flight performance, but also by a clear vision of how urban air mobility and especially drone delivery can help improve people’s lives. This aligns perfectly with ZAL’s values. With our expertise, we want to convert the Wingcopter to hydrogen and thus strengthen the ‘Hamburg UAM Network Windrove’ with another flagship project.”
Covering an area of more than 26,000 m², The ZAL Centre for Applied Aeronautical Research, has 600 employees hailing from over thirty industrial and scientific organisations and is one of the most advanced hubs for joint research and development.
The heart of the research centre is the ZAL team of around 60 people whose task is to create ideal conditions for applied aviation research. In addition, a dedicated Research & Technology Group of 40 scientists and engineers work “on innovation projects, while supporting partners to develop technological solutions.”
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