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Honeywell acquires H2 fuel-cell manufacturer

By Mary Page Bailey |

Honeywell has acquired assets from privately held Ballard Unmanned Systems, a wholly owned subsidiary of Southborough, Mass.-based Ballard Power Systems Inc. Ballard Unmanned Systems designs and produces industry-leading, stored-hydrogen proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel-cell systems that power unmanned aerial systems (UAS), particularly those used for energy inspection, cargo delivery, and other commercial and defense applications where demand for UAS services is growing.

Honeywell is acquiring the key intellectual property, inventory and equipment of Ballard Unmanned Systems. Ballard’s team of fuel-cell experts will also join Honeywell as part of the acquisition.

“Adding Ballard Unmanned Systems to the Honeywell family is another example of our commitment to invest in the growing UAS segment,” said Mike Madsen, president and chief executive officer, Honeywell Aerospace. “We can now begin producing top-quality, scalable power systems for our UAS customers and eventually adapt these systems for other future aerospace, defense and adjacent segment applications.”

Fuel cells function much like traditional batteries but with a key difference: They don’t run out of power or need to be recharged. A fuel cell uses the chemical energy of hydrogen or another fuel to cleanly and efficiently produce electricity. Unmanned aerial systems powered by fuel cells can fly longer distances, are quiet and have zero greenhouse gas emissions.

Ballard Unmanned Systems’ fuel cell power systems can run up to three times longer than batteries and are five times more reliable than small engines. Furthermore, unlike traditional gas engines that have carbon emissions, they utilize hydrogen, a clean source of energy.

With the added capabilities of Ballard Unmanned Systems, Honeywell intends to introduce a family of fuel cell power systems for a variety of UAS vehicles. Honeywell will also collaborate with Ballard Power Systems on broader aviation applications.

Honeywell offers certification expertise as well as a full line of avionics, propulsion and operational systems for unmanned aircraft and UAM vehicles. In June, the company launched a business dedicated to UAS and Urban Air Mobility. Additionally, in September Honeywell opened a new research and development lab to demonstrate the company’s technological capabilities in both hardware and software for the UAS and UAM markets.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, and there is no change to Honeywell’s third-quarter 2020 outlook as a result of the acquisition.

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