Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) joined Doosan Mobility Innovation (DMI) and GTI at the CES Las Vegas summit to announce their partnership in launching DMI's first-of-its-kind hydrogen drone technology. With the support of SoCalGas and GTI, DMI will be demonstrating their DS30 drone system, which offers the best fuel cell powerpack performance with up to 120 minutes of flight time and up to 11 pounds 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 unparalleled 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 maximize drone performance for inspection operations. The hydrogen-powered fuel cell drones can stay airborne for up to two 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 life span of over 1,000 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 U.S. Department of Energy 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.
"GTI is excited to partner with SoCalGas and DMI on this demonstration of hydrogen in the fast-growing application of drones," said Ted Barnes, Director of R&D at GTI. "Our role is to support the integration of hydrogen into new technologies and this partnership allows us to utilize our capabilities while working with leaders in the field."
"Our partnership with SoCalGas and GTI means more than just a simple drone project. Our hydrogen-powered DS30 drone is used to inspect SoCalGas' facility and serves as a perfect demonstration of how zero emission drones can be used, especially in a long-distance application such as pipeline inspection," said Doosoon Lee, CEO of DMI. "We continue to discover a true value of 2 hours flying drone system powered by hydrogen for our customers. We hope this partnership can represent one of its greatest value."
DMI serves as the pioneer and creator of the world's first commercialized hydrogen fuel cell system for drones and is utilized in various industrial fields including utility inspection, delivery, environmental monitoring, and public safety. This year, 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.
Last year, 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.