BMPower and Linde Gas, the world's largest producer of hydrogen, has announced the signing of a strategic agreement

11.06.2017, 08:13

MOSCOW, 7 June 2017BMPower, a Russian developer, producer of hydrogen-air fuel cells and a resident of the Skolkovo energy cluster, together with Linde Gas Rus, a subsidiary of The Linde Group, the world's largest producer of industrial gases, has announced the signing of a strategic agreement.

Within the framework of the announced partnership, the companies intend to cooperate in the fields of hydrogen energy and the supply of technical hydrogen, as produced by Linde, to the users of unmanned aerial vehicles and other equipment, with an energy system based on hydrogen-air fuel cells manufactured by BMPower. AO "Linde Gas Rus" plans to supply hydrogen to end users in a Plug&Play mode (already in refilled cylinders), which will solve the most important problem of hydrogen economy for drones — the infrastructure of refilling stations. Thus, the partners intend to remove the main barrier currently hindering the active development of industrial drone aircraft, which is the lack of commercial products that could provide a significant duration of drone flights while offering a high degree of safety and ease of use of the fuel system. The current agreement envisages the implementation of the project in the territory of the Russian Federation and the CIS countries. However, due to the high export potential of a fully developed hydrogen-air fuel cell system, new partners and investors are being considered for this venture into this fast-growing market.

According to J`son & Partners Consulting[1], the capacity of the world market of UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) is more than $7 billion. The uses of unmanned robotic units open infinite possibilities when applied to the monitoring of infrastructure, facilities, oil and gas sector tasks, logistics, etc. PwC estimates the total cost of products and services that can be provided worldwide with the help of drones[2] at more than $127 billion. Simultaneously, the growth and expansion of the industrial drone market, as well as the utilization of industrial drones, is currently being impeded by technical limitations.

The accelerated penetration of drones into existing markets, and the replacement of traditional solutions with the use of drones, is being hampered by several factors: low energy density of power systems (batteries), and, as a result, a short operating time – on average 30–40 minutes – with the added limitation of full use only at temperatures above zero.

BMPower has developed an alternative to rechargeable batteries — a hydrogen-air fuel cell power system – which can be started-up and operated within a large range of temperatures (from -40 °C). This system allows for a dramatically increased payload capacity onboard the aircraft and also features up to ten times higher energy density. In fact, the fuel endurance of an aircraft will now be determined by the onboard hydrogen capacity.

Signing the agreement between BMPower and Linde Gas Rus is a strategic step in the further development of both the most innovative product and the entire market. A powerful network of representative offices, affiliates and branches of Linde Gas Rus will make the hydrogen fuel system widely available in Russia and the CIS countries, and the guaranteed quality of gas supply services will provide customers with the maximum level of safety, reliability and convenience.

As part of the agreement, Linde Gas Rus will integrate cylinders into the fuel system, incorporate them into the existing product range and price list, while also providing customers with consulting and information support. In the near future, the companies aim to introduce a Plug&Play fuel cell refilling system which is so simple and easy to use that the changing of a hydrogen cylinder can be performed  safely and independently by customers.

"The demand for unmanned aircraft today is high in many industries. However, the demand, until recently, did not have an adequate supply. This market, both Russian and global, is in the initial phase of its development, and we are pleased that, together with the world leader in the production of industrial gases, we can give it a new impulse for development. I hope that thanks to the partnership of the companies, Russia will become one of the top countries with the highest growth rate in the field of industrial unmanned aircraft, and that our successful endeavors will lead to the finding of new applications in other spheres," said Alexey Ivanenko, BDO at BMPower.

"We are happy, in cooperation with Russian engineers, to contribute to the development of such a young and promising industry such as the unmanned aircraft industry. Cooperation with AT Energy is the first entry of the global company into the promising market for UAV fuel and a strategically significant step that supports its innovative nature. The product will be available in our offer line in 2017," Susanne Goldammer, CEO of Linde Gas Rus, commented on the agreement.

[1] J`son & Partners Consulting, Market Watch, November 2016

[2] PwC Global Report, May 2016