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Ground simulation of fuel cell/battery hybrid propulsion system for small unmanned air vehicles

Sinan Keiyinci (Department of Automotive Engineering, Cukurova University, Adana, Turkey)
Kadir Aydin (Department of Mechanical Engineering, Cukurova University, Adana, Turkey)

Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology

ISSN: 0002-2667

Article publication date: 10 June 2021

Issue publication date: 5 August 2021




The endurance of small unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) is directly associated with the energy density of the propulsion system used. As the batteries commonly used in small UAVs have a relatively low energy density, they are not sufficient for long-term endurance tasks. The purpose of this paper is to offer a solution to increase the endurance of a concept small UAV with combination of different power sources. The design, construction and ground tests of fuel cell-powered hybrid propulsion systems are presented in this paper.


The power requirements of a concept UAV were calculated according to aerodynamic calculations and then, hybrid propulsion system sources are determined. The hybrid system consists of a 100 W scale proton-exchange membrane (PEM) type fuel cell stack, lithium-polymer battery, solar cells and power management system (PMS). Subsequently, this hybrid power system was integrated with the new design of PMS and then series of ground tests were carried out.


This experimental study proved that it is theoretically possible to obtain an endurance of around 3 h for concept UAV with the proposed hybrid system.

Practical implications

The research study shows that fuel cell-based hybrid propulsion system with the proposed PMS can be widely used to obtain extended endurance in small UAVs.


A hybrid propulsion system with a novel PMS unit is proposed for small UAVs and the ground tests were implemented.



This research was supported by XXX University Department of Scientific Research Projects [Project No. XXX-XXX-XXX].

The authors would like to thank the Cukurova University Scientific Research Project Coordination (FDK-2019-12071) for financial support to this project.


Keiyinci, S. and Aydin, K. (2021), "Ground simulation of fuel cell/battery hybrid propulsion system for small unmanned air vehicles", Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology, Vol. 93 No. 5, pp. 783-793.



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