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SoCalGas, Doosan Mobility Innovation and GTI to launch hydrogen drone demonstration

Published by , Editorial Assistant
Global Hydrogen Review,

Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) has joined Doosan Mobility Innovation (DMI) and GTI at the CES Las Vegas summit to announce the companies' partnership in launching DMI's hydrogen drone technology. With the support of SoCalGas and GTI, DMI will be demonstrating its DS30 drone system, which offers the best fuel cell powerpack performance with up to 120 minutes of flight time and up to 11 lb maximum payload. Powered by hydrogen, the DS30 can monitor a 1-mile-long pipeline in a single flight.

SoCalGas plans to use the DS30 drone to assist with natural gas pipeline inspections. Drone usage provides imagery and aerial mapping services to further improve pipeline system maintenance. The DS30 demonstration will provide close-up digital photography for locations that are difficult or hazardous to access and provide imagery for aerial mapping and three-dimensional topographic models which allows for deeper insight on terrains surrounding the utility's operations. Additionally, the drone system can provide a video record of pipeline routes, construction sites, open trenches and working conditions.

"This hydrogen-powered drone offers an opportunity to more efficiently monitor our pipelines in hard to access areas, allowing us to collect more data to quickly solve potential pipeline integrity issues," said Neil Navin, vice president of clean energy innovations for SoCalGas. "This project is a great demonstration on the versatility of hydrogen and its broad range of applications as a clean fuel of the future. Adopting advanced monitoring hydrogen drone technology to maintain the integrity of our pipeline system is part of our mission to build the cleanest, safest, and most innovative energy company in America."

DMI, a market leader of hydrogen fuel cell drones, delivers commercial drone platforms with fuel cell powerpacks to maximise drone performance for inspection operations. The hydrogen-powered fuel cell drones can stay airborne for up to 2 hours of flight time as fuel cells have approximately 4 to 5 times higher energy density when compared to lithium-ion batteries. On average, fuel cells have a lifespan of over 1000 hours and provide real-time monitoring of product status through DMI's remote system.

This effort is part of a larger project focusing on advancing hydrogen technologies. GTI and SoCalGas, in close collaboration with several additional project partners, are working on a US Department of Energy (DOE) project that intends to show renewable hydrogen can be a cost-effective fuel for multiple end-use applications, including drones, when coupled with large baseload consumers that use hydrogen for clean, reliable, stationary power.

DMI serves as the pioneer and creator of the world's first commercialised hydrogen fuel cell system for drones and is utilised in various industrial fields including utility inspection, delivery, environmental monitoring and public safety. In 2022, DMI won a total of seven awards at CES Las Vegas with two projects involving the DJ25 hydrogen fuel cell drone.

SoCalGas' drone operations are managed in compliance with federal, state and local laws and regulations.

In 2021, SoCalGas established a goal to achieve net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in its operations and delivery of energy by 2045. The company is the largest North American natural gas distribution utility to set an ambitious net zero goal that includes scopes 1, 2 and 3 GHG emissions.

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