ZIP power cells to be developed by OXIS Energy
The Zephyr Innovation Programme (ZIP), led by Airbus Defence & Space at Farnborough, is developing a High Altitude Long Pseudo Satellite (HAPS) to provide remote sensing and internet connectivity in the developing world and OXIS Energy is to develop cells to power the vehicle.
Above: Zephyr is a High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite (HAPS) that fills a capability gap between satellites and UAVs.
The long term aim of this is to bring billions of people online in places like Africa, South America, India and Indonesia.
As part of this programme, OXIS Energy will develop cells capable of meeting the Specific Energy target of 425Wh/kg, thus enabling the Zephyr HAPS to be able to fly above any weather in the troposphere and remain aloft for three months without needing to land.
The project will be funded by Aerospace Technology Institute and Innovate UK at a cost of £7.6 million. Cranfield University will work on the battery control estimation algorithm and Ricardo will undertake the Battery Management System (BMS) hardware development.
The 27 month programme which began in November will be led by Airbus and its project partners from the UK Academic institutions with an aim of manufacturing up to 500 aircraft per year by 2020. This is set to create up to 72 skilled jobs when aircraft manufacture begins with a growth target to more than 2,000 new jobs in the UK.
Airbus Defence & Space's HAPS is a new type of solar-powered aircraft designed to circle in the Earth's stratosphere, capable of launching, landing and re-deploying autonomously whilst delivering consistent, satellite-like Earth observation and communication services, at a fraction of the cost.
"This is a very significant step in aviation and will have a profound effect on the future of land based electric vehicles as well." said Huw Hampson-Jones, CEO of OXIS Energy. "OXIS has worked with Airbus for over 30 months. It is not lost on us that it's because of the strides that OXIS Energy has made in developing its unique technology based on a lithium-sulfur battery chemistry, that we have been selected for this programme."
A key criterion for Airbus winning this contract is its capability to manufacture 500 aircraft per annum. The target markets are civilian UAVs for remote sensing (£3.2bn) and internet connectivity (£14bn).