This paper describes a methodology for design and optimization of a polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cell unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). The focus of this paper is the optimization of the fuel cell propulsion system and hydrogen storage system for a baseline aircraft. Physics-based models, and experimentally-derived sub-system performance data are used to characterize the performance of each configuration within a design space. The results of aircraft synthesis and performance modeling routines are used to create response surface equations where tradeoffs among component specifications can be explored. Significant tradeoffs between fuel cell performance, hydrogen storage and aircraft aerodynamic and propulsion system design are presented. Validation and test results from a proof-of-concept fuel cell UAV propulsion system are presented. Validated models of the fuel cell and aircraft systems are used to predict the performance of fuel cell UAVs at the scale of the baseline aircraft.

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