Swinburne’s hydrogen drone to take flight


Swinburne University’s Aerostructures Innovation Research Hub (AIR Hub) will develop and trial Australia’s first hydrogen propelled drone, thanks to a $1.3 million grant from the federal government’s Emerging Aviation Technology Partnerships programme.

The university’s Hydrogen to the Skies (H22S) project will design and integrate a new hydrogen propulsion system into a large drone, working with partners to develop the zero emissions uncrewed air system.

The first prototype is expected to be completed before the end of 2023.

AIR Hub Director Dr Adriano Di Pietro said the project would have significant impacts for Australian industry.

Dr Di Pietro said: “With long range, zero carbon emissions and a low noise footprint, hydrogen powered air vehicles represent the future of environmentally sustainable and socially responsible advanced air mobility.

“We are proud to be putting Australia at the cutting edge of this rapidly growing industry and improving outcomes for regional and remote communities across the country and the world”.

Hydrogen propulsion is projected to be a critical turning point for advanced air mobility in regional Australia because it significantly extends range and payload options, compared with pure battery electric propulsion.

The project will demonstrate how hydrogen propulsion can be commercially deployed, paving the way for necessary regulatory and operational developments.

The project continues AIR Hub’s leading work on Small Hydrogen Aircraft Development & Evolution (SHADE) and commitment to bringing together industry, research and education to solve real-world problems and advance the next generation of engineers, scientists and technicians.

The project is envisaged as the first phase of a strategic aviation initiative to position Australia as an early entrant and global leader in hydrogen propulsion and the technology’s regional application.


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