ZAL GmbH, Wingcopter Hydrogen Drone

Wingcopter and ZAL GmbH Begin Joint Development of Hydrogen Power Source

by DRONELIFE Staff Writer Ian M. Crosby

German delivery drone company Wingcopter and ZAL Center of Applied Aeronautical Research GmbH have announced a development partnership to explore green hydrogen as a potential power source for Wingcopter’s electric drones. The partners also want to develop a sustainable hydrogen-based propulsion system, which will be produced by Wingcopter and installed in its delivery drones.

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The goal of replacing the Wingcopter 198’s power source with hydrogen is for the drone to become more powerful while remaining emission free. While the Wingcopter already achieves higher ranges and speeds than most competitors’ models, hydrogen propulsion could enable it to achieve even longer flight times and greater distances for delivery.

The Wingcopter’s modification project will take place at ZAL’s Fuel Cell Lab in Hamburg. The partners will develop a solution able to fit into the Wingcopter’s current technical ecosystem while maintaining the drone’s characteristic flight capabilities. Previously, the company’s engineers were able to achieve a flight duration of over two hours with the ZALbatros hydrogen drone. This was made possible by utilizing compressed gaseous hydrogen in combination with a fuel cell, similar to the methods that will be employed in the Wingcopter.

“We are very excited about the collaboration and are confident that together we can develop an even more efficient propulsion solution that benefits nature at the same time. We have always wanted the Wingcopter to be able to fly even further,” said Wingcopter co-founder and CEO Tom Plümmer. “However, we categorically ruled out the installation of a conventional combustion engine right from the start with a view to the environment and climate change. We are happy to now explore technical possibilities in the field of hydrogen propulsion together with the ZAL experts and then put the best concept into practice.”

“Our mission is to bring hydrogen into the air and create innovative solutions for sustainable aviation,” said ZAL GmbH CEO Roland Gerhards. “With Wingcopter as our partner, we’re not only impressed by their drones’ flight performance, but also by their clear vision of how urban air mobility and especially drone delivery can help improve people’s lives. This aligns perfectly with ZAL’s values. With our expertise, we want to convert the Wingcopter to hydrogen and thus strengthen the Hamburg UAM network Windrove with another flagship project.”

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Ian attended Dominican University of California, where he received a BA in English in 2019. With a lifelong passion for writing and storytelling and a keen interest in technology, he is now contributing to DroneLife as a staff writer.

Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has penned over 3,000 articles focused on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
For drone industry consulting or writing, Email Miriam.

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