Extending the endurance, missions and capabilities of most UAVS using advanced flexible/ridged solar cells and new high power density batteries technology
Chin, Chee Keen.
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The extension of flight time for military miniature unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) has been demonstrated through the implementation of thin-film photovoltaic (TFPV) cells. Currently, most electric mini-UAVs are powered by high energy density lithium-ion or lithium polymer batteries; however, the flight endurance is usually limited between 60 to 90 minutes before requiring a forced recovery to replace exhausted batteries. In this thesis, the viability of extending flight endurance by complementing the on-board battery source of a mini-UAV using advanced TFPV cells made of copper-indium-gallium di-selenide (CIGS) semiconductor materials is considered. In order to achieve a higher efficiency, the simulation and testing phase incorporates the use of a DC-to-DC converter and a maximum power point tracking device or algorithm to provide the desired output voltage and deliver maximum power from the TFPV cells to the battery and load. In addition to investigating the application of TFPV cell technology, development of new high power/energy density batteries and fuel cells technologies, as well as the potential benefit of applying less mature, high-efficiency photovoltaic cells to military UAVs are also considered.
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