Lusanne, Switzerland–HES Energy Systems’ AEROPAK hydrogen fuel cell system and mobile hydrogen refueling system for electric aviation have been given the Efficient Solution label by Solar Impulse Foundation from Switzerland. As such HES’ key products are now part of the foundation’s select group of solutions that succeed in combining ecology, social innovation, and profitability.
HES has a 12-year history in evolving aviation-focused hydrogen electric propulsion, starting in fixed-wing drones and moving to larger systems. As early as 2007, HES helped set new world distance records for small electric aircraft together with NASA-backed university teams in the US.
HES recently announced a 3.5 hour endurance HYCOPTER hydrogen multi-rotor drone, powered by AEROPAK. Such products are a precursor to ELEMENT ONE, a hydrogen manned aircraft that applies multiple sets of AEROPAK on its wings in a distributed propulsion set up. ELEMENT ONE is set to fly for the first time in 2025, while a first transatlantic crossing of an fixed-wing unmanned system is due to take place in 2021.
Solar Impulse Foundation’s includes some of the world’s most prominent experts in the field of clean energy and aviation, and its committee has concluded on AEROPAK’s positive impact on the environment and society, as well as its economic profitability and technological feasibility.
Several factors convinced the experts about the important benefits for the environment deriving from HES solution. First, hydrogen-powered flights are 100% zero emission, and powering small UAVs and drones is the first step to achieve a consistent reduction of the CO2 emissions coming from today’s aviation, which is still based on kerosene.
On lifecycle greenhouse emissions, extracting hydrogen from natural gas can reduce greenhouse emissions by more than 20% compared to conventional fuel production methods. Hydrogen can also be produced by electrolysis from renewable energy making the entire cycle carbon-free. Finally, studies show how that lifecycle greenhouse emissions are already lower to those of LiPo batteries when long distances are covered.
With regards to the economic impact of such a solution, most of the benefits come from the relevant flight time extension, which allows achieving results that were not possible with LiPo batteries. Also, by creating opportunities for decentralized operations, such innovations can create new value in smaller, under-utilized aerodromes and airports, not necessarily in big cities – while being physically closer to decentralized renewable energy sources.
About HES Energy Systems
HES Energy Systems specializes in building high-performance hydrogen fuel cell systems to extend the flying range of autonomous aerial vehicles. With a presence in Singapore since 2009, HES has grown to become a global leader in developing ultra-light fuel cells and hydrogen energy storage systems. Hired by tier-one UAV manufacturers and leading aerospace institutes around the world for over 12 years, HES has developed a variety of hydrogen storage approaches to continuously push the limits of on-board, off-grid or portable energy. HES’ parent company H3 Dynamics Holdings is backed by Japan’s SPARX representing Toyota Mirai Creation Fund, ACA Partners, and Capital Management Group.
About Solar Impulse Foundation and World Efficient Solutions Alliance
Solar Impulse Foundation has been founded by the legendary aviation duo André Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard, globally known for having completed the first ever solar-powered round-the-world flight with the plane Solar Impulse 2. The Foundation aims to create the World biggest cleantech network and to select 1000 Efficient Solutions that will be presented by Piccard in 2019 to World's decision-makers and business leaders during the whole year, in order to encourage and accelerate the adoption of eco-friendly solutions.