ICRA 2012 Paper Abstract


Paper TuA210.3

Thangavelautham, Jekanthan (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Strawser, Daniel (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Cheung, Mei Yi (Columbia University), Dubowsky, Steven (MIT)

Lithium Hydride Powered PEM Fuel Cells for Long-Duration Small Mobile Robotic Missions

Scheduled for presentation during the Interactive Session "Interactive Session TuA-2" (TuA210), Tuesday, May 15, 2012, 09:00−09:30, Ballroom D

2012 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, May 14-18, 2012, RiverCentre, Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA

This information is tentative and subject to change. Compiled on November 14, 2018

Keywords Energy and Environment-aware Automation, Field Robots


This paper reports on a study to develop power supplies for small mobile robots performing long duration missions. It investigates the use of fuel cells to achieve this objective, and in particular Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cells. It is shown through a representative case study that, in theory, fuel cell based power supplies will provide much longer range than the best current rechargeable battery technology. It also briefly discusses an important limitation that prevents fuel cells from achieving their ideal performance, namely a practical method to store their fuel (hydrogen) in a form that is compatible with small mobile field robots. A very efficient fuel storage concept based on water activated lithium hydride (LiH) is proposed that releases hydrogen on demand. This concept is very attractive because water vapor from the air is passively extracted or waste water from the fuel cell is recycled and transferred to the lithium hydride where the hydrogen is "stripped" from water and is returned to the fuel cell to form more water. This results in higher hydrogen storage efficiencies than conventional storage methods. Experimental results are presented that demonstrate the effectiveness of the approach.



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