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Hydrogen-Powered Drone's Initial Inspection of Power Grid in Wenzhou
Date:2021-12-19 08:01:54 Source:Wenzhou·China Fonts:[ Large Medium Small ]

Hydrogen-powered drone (called “Qingting” in Chinese pronounced the same as the Chinese word “dragonfly”) has completed the automatic inspection of the 500 kilovolt of Wangnan Line.

On December 13rd, after more than 2 hours’ continuous inspection, a hydrogen-powered drone with multi-rotor named “Qingting” of State Grid Wenzhou Power Supply Company successfully completed the automatic inspection of 500 kilovolt cable of Wangnan Line. It is the first time that a fuel-cell drone powered by hydrogen is used in the national electrical power system to carry out inspection programs, meaning that hydrogen energy equipment has been firstly applied into the daily operation and inspection of power grid.

It is known that hydrogen energy will be served as an important energy source for grid development in the future due to its advantages of huge storage capacity, high efficiency, and non-pollution. Under the national policy of actively promoting the development of general aviation and the application of clean energy, accelerating the development of hydrogen fuel cells in the field of unmanned aviation vehicles (UAVs) is of significance.

The inspection drone traditionally is powered by lithium batteries which can last 20-30 minutes on average. There exists a certain threat to inspection safety, if the drone falls out of control due to its use of large-capacity lithium battery pack, which easily leads to burn and explode. Thus, the current urgent need of inspection work for power grid requires a new kind of drone with long battery life, continuous inspection, and high security.

It is introduced that, at the beginning of this year, State Grid Wenzhou Power Supply Company, together with Jinling Carbon Energy Digital Intelligence Technology Laboratory, finally successfully invented the first hydrogen-powered drone with multi-rotor named “Qingting” after half a year's exploration and perseverance. As an electric drone taking hydrogen fuel cell to generate the power and hydrogen as the energy source, hydrogen does not burn in the fuel cell during the operation of “Qingting”. Instead, it can be converted directly into electricity by combining hydrogen and oxygen through the action of platinum-carbon catalyst, and the only product is water, which is a clean and carbon-free way to generate power.

It is learned that it offers power autonomy of 2 hours, about four times that of the lithium battery drone. The life of hydrogen fuel cell is more than 2000 hours, about 20 times that of the lithium battery. The battery of hydrogen fuel cell contains no heavy metal pollutants, whose bipolar plates, catalysts, and other materials can be recycled after destruction. It is tested that the “Qingting” drone fails to burn or explode when it falls into the ground at a height of 100 meters, which performs better in safety.

The success of the initial inspection of the “Qingting” drone has filled the gap of the application of hydrogen fuel in the electric power drone. Next, State Grid Wenzhou Power Supply Company will expand the multi-directional application of hydrogen drones in inspection for power grid by carrying different functional equipment to make breakthroughs in the technical barriers, make efforts to realize the renewal and upgrading of the whole industrial chain of drone inspection, and achieve high quality development of power grid.

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