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Airtech

Hydrogen and Oxygen Storage System for Helios Project

23 August 2001

Quantum Technologies has been awarded a major contract by AeroVironment and NASA to design, fabricate, test and supply large advanced hydrogen and oxygen tanks for the next generation Helios fuel cell prototype aircraft.

The Helios fuel cell aircraft is a remotely piloted flying wing prototype for NASA's Environmental Research Aircraft and Sensor Technology (ERAST) project -- demonstrating the capability to carry a payload of scientific instruments and telecommunications relay equipment for the next generation of broadband communications. The unique system to be developed by Quantum is a key enabling technology that will allow Helios to fly continuously for up to 6 months at altitudes up to 60,000 feet. Ultra-light-weight, low permeability, hydrogen and oxygen tanks are critical for achieving the high specific energy and for minimizing reactant gas loss required for the energy storage system.

The Helios prototype is the fourth generation of all-wing aircraft designed and built by AeroVironment at its Design Development Center in Simi Valley, CA, as technology demonstrators for future solar-powered high-altitude aircraft platforms for science and commercial missions. The Helios prototype has a wingspan of 247 feet-longer than the wingspans of the Air Force C-5 military transport (222 feet) or the Boeing 747 commercial jetliner (195 feet) -- the two largest operational aircraft in the United States. The lightweight, electrically powered Helios is constructed mostly of composite materials such as carbon fiber, graphite epoxy, Kevlar, Styrofoam, and a thin, transparent plastic skin.






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