The group working to bring the lightweight, longer-lasting batteries to the market includes (from left) engineer Wang Lei and Dr Han Ming from Temasek Polytechnic’s Clean Energy Research Centre, Dr Lu Jinchang and Mr Adec Thng from EnergyNova and students Ryan Lim and Eugene Chin (at the back), who interned at the start-up.PHOTO: ENERGYNOVA

Drones are emerging as a key technology across industries ranging from logistics to entertainment, and makers are constantly looking for ways to improve their design and battery life.

To that end, home-grown start-up EnergyNova is working with researchers from Temasek Polytechnic (TP) to develop lightweight, longer-lasting batteries for drones.

The partners were connected through Intellectual Property Intermediary (IPI) Singapore’s portal. The non-profit organisation links Singapore-based companies with partners in its network of technology solution providers.

EnergyNova makes compact, lightweight hydrogen-based batteries, which when paired with a fuel cell, can be used for a wide range of applications, including powering drones.

Through IPI’s portal, EnergyNova connected with researchers from TP’s Clean Energy Research Centre, who had developed a proprietary hydrogen fuel cell technology that can deliver more energy than conventional systems.

EnergyNova licensed the technology from TP, and the partners are working together to bring it to market in a year’s time.

“Drones are increasingly used for industrial purposes, for instance, to inspect tall buildings and power lines. Half an hour of flight time is never enough. With our solution we can achieve two or three times more than current batteries,” said EnergyNova business development manager Adec Thng.

Mr Thng added that there are further opportunities for collaboration – for instance, in developing portable charging devices that can last for longer periods of time, or even developing solutions to power small golf buggies or e-scooters.

Dr Han Ming, head of fuel cell systems at TP’s Clean Energy Research Centre, said the partnership also gave two TP students the opportunity to intern at EnergyNova.

“It trained our students to work in a start-up and be exposed to the process of technology development and commercialisation,” he said.

Chia Yan Min

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 18, 2017, with the headline ‘Poly, start-up team up to build better drone batteries’.