Ascent Solar’s flexible CIGS thin-film photovoltaic modules will be designed into the development of a hybrid unmanned aerial vehicle (H-UAV) called the Silent Sentinel, developed by Bye Aerospace. The two companies signed a memorandum of understanding in April and have now agreed to proceed with the joint effort.
The first-of-its-kind hybrid craft (rendering shown at left)–which will be designed primarily for military use but will be capable of many civilian applications–uses stored electric power, TFPV, and other technologies to enhance its endurance, quiet operations, and low emissions.
In addition to Ascent’s flexible copper-indium-gallium-(di)selenide (CIGS) PV modules, for primary propulsion the hybrid UAV will be coupled with an advanced Williams International FJ33 turbofan. The efficient engine will provide the UAV remarkable climb rates and high altitude quick access to areas requiring surveillance, according to Bye.
Charlie Johnson, Bye’s COO, said the Silent Sentinel is a robust, long-range UAV that will incorporate several proprietary clean energy features. “Ultimately, it will provide advanced tactical reconnaissance functionality while utilizing a uniquely long endurance, highly capable tactical sensor platform that is operationally stealthy and cost-effective to operate. The unique characteristics of the Ascent Solar flexible modules allow us to design this UAV to become very energy efficient.”
“Our flexible, monolithically integrated CIGS PV technology offers the ideal combination of low weight, higher voltage, and high performance that makes it ideal for applications such as the Silent Sentinel, and we look forward to providing Bye Aerospace the materials they require for their vehicle,” said Joseph Armstrong, CTO of Ascent Solar.
CEO George Bye said his company hoped to “begin bench testing with Ascent Solar’s thin-film PV technology before year end.” Ascent’s Armstrong noted that the modules will be manufactured on the TFPV company’s recently commissioned 1.5-MW pilot line.