Zephyr programme bringing Internet to developing nations

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 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.

Cranfield University will work on the battery control estimation algorithm and Ricardo will undertake the Battery Management System (BMS) hardware development.

The 27 month programme, which began in November will be led by Airbus and its project partners from the 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 while delivering consistent, satellite-like Earth observation and communication services, at a fraction of the cost.

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.