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Climate Tech

Hydrogen Powered Airships Are Here

September 2, 2023
x min read

HyLight Aero, a new startup recently backed by Y Combinator, has a bold new approach to solving power leaks: hydrogen powered airships.

The big idea:

  • Energy infrastructure companies, whether they are utility companies or oil and gas companies, need to constantly inspect their network to make sure it is in good condition to avoid leaks and outages
  • The consequences of leaks are highly damaging to the climate, with methane leaks from oil and gas companies representing 4% of all carbon emissions globally per year
  • Since energy networks are very large physically, they are typically monitored by helicopters, which are both costly and have a high carbon footprint
  • HyLight builds and operates hydrogen powered airships that are significantly better for the environment, as well as cheaper to operate

How does it work:

  • Each HyLight airship, which functions much like a drone, is smaller than a typical blimp and is powered by a hydrogen tank onboard
  • Hydrogen powers absolutely everything involved with the airship, from engines to sensors
  • The total available flight time is 20 hours, which is important due to how much distance is needed to travel to inspect energy infrastructure that is in remote areas geographically
  • Cameras mounted to the airship collect the data and then leverage machine learning to process it efficiently and provide detailed insights on potential power outages, leaks or damages

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