IAV transmits from the stratosphere

An unmanned platform in the stratosphere is to close radio gaps on the ground. To this end, IAV has developed the concept for a fuel cell system that is operational under the ambient conditions at this altitude.

In 2018, there were 240 radio holes in Germany. Since it was not possible to set up radio masts everywhere, the start-up Stratospheric Platforms Limited (SPL) came up with the idea of solving the problem from the stratosphere.

From an altitude of 18 kilometers, the unmanned flying object with fuel cell system was to close radio gaps on the ground. An ingenious idea, were it not for the challenging environmental conditions such as extremely low air pressure and sub-zero temperatures to allow the drone to fly in the stratosphere.

In order to make the idea fly, IAV developed a concept for a fuel cell system to power such a platform in 2018.

“That was quite a challenge for us, also in view of the extreme operating environment,” says the team leader in the Fuel Cell Systems Development department at the time, who led the project.

It took a year and a half to design the system – supported by IAV’s fuel cell system simulation – and then build the demonstrator. “From the idea, through construction, to commissioning and functional verification, we handled the entire project at IAV – every engineer’s dream.”