A military drone fitted with autonomous lithium batteries and high energy density

Stéphane PAUL’s interview – CEO of H2X Ecosystems

H2X Ecosystems Weasel drone militaire

H2X Ecosystems is a company established in 2010 specialized in the development of green hydrogen production systems. Nowadays, it is located in the city of Bruz in France. It was created by the initiative of two men sharing the same vision about a transition towards a greener energy:

  • Stéphane Paul, CEO of H2X Ecosystems with an expertise in the use of green hydrogen to power small vehicles,
  • Jean-Luc Fleureau, CTO of H2X Ecosystems but also founder of the Eco Solar Breizh association created in 2010 which allowed him to gain a certain experience regarding electrical and solar automobile racing.
H2X Ecosystems

Green hydrogen represents an eco-responsible power source since its manufacturing only requires to use water and electricity derived from renewable energies.

Contrary to most of the market’s solutions, it could allow us to power our applications while drastically reducing the emitted carbon footprint. These steps are part of an ecological approach seeking an energy self-sufficiency that upsets the current establish model:

We want to create devices being part of the creation of a local ecosystem local regarding green hydrogen.

Stéphane PAUL
CEO of H2X Ecosystems

The challenge

At the beginning of H2X Ecosystems’ work, there is an initiative of the French Army in February 2022 to develop a concept of guided vehicle powered by hydrogen. Then, the project was led by the Battle-Lab Terre, the French Army’s R&D centre established in 2018 whose issues are various:

  • Being at the cutting edge of technology for a better efficiency in the field,
  • Create links between the various actors of innovation,
  • Make ideas emerge and accompany them through their creation and launch with the help of several partners.

Thereafter, this enterprise was followed by the creation of Force W French consortium by a company operating in the defence sector. This company has collaborated with H2X Ecosystems for the ground guided vehicle’s conception (UGV: Unmanned ground vehicle or pilotless surface vehicle). This vehicle is the Weasel, a four-wheeled drone about the same size than a car capable to transport UAV (Unmanned aerial vehicle) or UGV and to access to extremes environments.

H2X Ecosystems chose to couple its propulsion system operating thanks to hydrogen with TYVA Energie’s lithium batteries in order to power the Weasel.

Solutions brought by TYVA Energie

TYVA Energie had to deal with a backbone similar to a thermal buggy’s one with 4 drive wheels to integrate its lithium batteries. Since the Weasel is a military vehicle aimed to be furtive and adapted to extreme areas, the space made to accommodate an energy source in restricted. This is why TYVA Energie chose to incorporate two Flat 12 lithium batteries from its Flat & Kube range which are slim batteries with exceptional energy capacities. They are connected to each other in series to reach a total voltage higher than 100 V and a capacity of 234.5 Ah.

Weasel 1
Weasel 2
Weasel 3
H2X Ecosystems batterie lithium

One the one hand, batteries bring autonomy and compactness thanks to their power and width of only 10 cm each. On the other hand, they bring lightness to the Weasel since their total weight is only 145 kg including the cooling system incorporated between the batteries. Indeed, to provide better performances to the vehicle, it is fitted with a cooling plate developed by H2X Ecosystems in partnership with TYVA Energie who dealt with the system’s assembly. This plate is placed in between the two batteries’ cases to cool off simultaneously the 8 kg fuel cell and the batteries, in order to maintain the system at the right temperature.

Besides lithium batteries and the fuel cell, the Weasel’s propulsion system embeds a 40 kg hydrogen tank that can be replaced within 30 seconds without having to switch component or recharge batteries. It allows to bring even more autonomy and flexibility to the system. In addition to obtain a lightweight vehicle, we get an operating vehicle ready for the field.

It took 5 months in total to produce the Weasel vehicle between February and June 2022. During that time, H2X Ecosystems was able to benefit from the support and help of TYVA Energie’s dedicated Engineers.

Benefits of our lithium batteries

The Weasel was showcased for the first time ever during Eurosatory 2022 exhibition where it was successfully welcomed thanks to its convenience and ingenuity. Indeed, the vehicle benefits from a genuine amount of energy at the cutting edge of technology with an innovative green power source.

Moreover, it has a great autonomy coupled with a significant lightness thanks to the compactness and the mass energy of TYVA Energie’s lithium batteries combined with H2X Ecosystems’ hybridization and fuel cell.

H2X Ecosystems Weasel drone militaire

What about now?

There are still great projects to come from H2X Ecosystems and TYVA Energie’s collaboration, notably regarding the electric mobility sector for which our compact and light lithium batteries already proved to be fitted for.

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