Electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircrafts are the emerging technology that is expected to revolutionize transportation industry. Li-ion battery is the leading candidate to power these aircrafts, but there are drawbacks such as low energy density, long recharging time, and possible thermal runaway.
OxEon Energy is investigating the use of a solid oxide fuel cell stack as the power generation device for eVTOL applications. The challenges of robustness of the SOFC device was addressed under a NASA funded program to develop a solid oxide electrolysis unit that successfully generated oxygen on Mars.
SOFCs are high efficiency devices that can utilize various fuels. As the fuels are stored separate from the fuel cell device, the fuel refilling times are considerably shorter. In addition, as air the oxidant for the fuel cell reaction, compared to a battery, half the reactant is not carried onboard. Performance improvement and fuel flexibility will be demonstrated by the use of an advanced cell architecture. Successful outcome of the project will result in a prototype for validation testing at an Air Force laboratory.
Photo: eVTOL, Courtesy U.S. Air Force