Luce Search and Chugoku Electric Power T&D Co.,Inc. develop fuel cell powered drone
Loughborough – 9th November 2021, Intelligent Energy (IE) customer, Luce Search, will work alongside Chugoku Electric Power Transmission & Distribution Company to develop a drone using IE’s hydrogen powered IE-SOAR™ 2.4kW fuel cell module. A prototype of the drone, which has been adopted by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry’s “Industrial Security Advancement Promotion Project Cost Subsidy”, will be developed and a demonstration test will be conducted by the end of February 2022.
These fuel cell powered drones will enable longer flight times, greenhouse gas reduction, and the streamlining of power equipment inspection and patrol. This is the first attempt in the electric power industry in Japan.
Luce Search will be responsible for the design of the aircraft for long-term flight and the development of prototypes. Chugoku Electric Power T&D will undertake the definition and demonstration of requirements with an eye on business use. Intelligent Energy will provide the lightweight fuel cell module to complete the system.
At the practical stage, the addition of the fuel cell system will extend the flight time from 50 minutes to 120 minutes compared to the conventional lithium-ion battery type drone developed by Luce so far.
Chugoku Electric Power T&D uses helicopters and more than 110 conventional drones for inspection and patrol work on power transmission and distribution lines. By doubling the flight time, Intelligent Energy’s fuel cell module expands the range of use to improve inspection capability and reduce labour overheads. It will be linked to carbon neutrality (greenhouse gas emissions are virtually zero).
Andy Kelly, Head of IE-SOAR Product Line at Intelligent Energy states:
‘IE-SOAR™ modules are an ideal solution for linear inspection operations. Range is key, and more than doubling the range of Luce Search’s platform gives a huge increase in operational efficiency. This improves return on investment and has zero greenhouse gas emissions. We look forward to working on this project and raising awareness of the benefits of fuel cell power within the Japanese market.’.
About Intelligent Energy
Intelligent Energy is focused on the development and manufacture of its Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cell products for customers in the automotive, aerospace, generator, telecoms, materials handling and unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) sectors. The company is headquartered and manufactures in Loughborough in the UK, with additional offices and representation in the US, Japan, China and South Korea.
About Luce Search Co., Ltd.
Luce Search, headquartered in Hiroshima City, Hiroshima Prefecture, is a pioneering company in the field of mobile object measurement, especially survey and inspection of social infrastructure by using drones (UAVs) and mobile robotics. The company is a leading company in the field of drone surveying using high-performance LiDAR that manufacture and sell drones for use and can survey even difficult mountains and valleys, steep slopes, etc.
About Chugoku Electric Power T&D Co.,Inc.
Chugoku Electric Power T&D Co.,Inc. is a general power transmission and distribution business operator in Japan, located in Naka-ku, Hiroshima City, with five prefectures in the Chugoku region and part of neighboring prefecture as supply areas. A wholly owned subsidiary of Chugoku Electric Power Co.,Ltd.