OXIS Energy, Zephyr Innovation Programme partner on GBP 7.6m satellite development project

The Zephyr Innovation Programme (ZIP), led by Airbus Defence & Space in Farnborough UK, is developing a High Altitude Long Pseudo Satellite (HAPS) to provide remote sensing and internet connectivity in the developing world, the company said.

The long term aim of this is to bring billions of people online in places like Africa, South America, India and Indonesia.

As part of this programme, OXIS Energy will develop cells capable of meeting the specific energy target of 425Wh/kg, thus enabling the Zephyr HAPS to be able to fly above any weather in the troposphere and remain aloft for 3 months without needing to land.

The project will be funded by Aerospace Technology Institute and Innovate UK at a cost of GBP 7.6m. The 27 month programme, which began in November, will be led by Airbus and its project partners from UK academic institutions with an aim of manufacturing up to 500 aircraft per year by 2020. This is set to create up to 72 skilled jobs when aircraft manufacture begins with a growth target to more than 2,000 new jobs in the UK.

Airbus Defence & Space´s HAPS is a new type of solar-powered aircraft designed to circle in the earth´s stratosphere, capable of launching, landing and re-deploying autonomously whilst delivering consistent, satellite-like earth observation and communication services.

A key criterion for Airbus winning this contract is its capability to manufacture 500 aircraft per annum. The target markets are civilian UAVs for remote sensing (GBP 3.2bn) and internet connectivity (GBP 14bn).

Since 2004, OXIS Energy has been involved in the design, development, and now the move towards commercial production of polymer lithium sulfur cells for battery systems. With 32 families of patents, OXIS has been granted 81 patents with 101 pending.