The aerospace and defense industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by automation, environmental sustainability, and operational efficiency, and growing importance of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), drones, and satellites. In the last three years alone, there have been over 237,000 patents filed and granted in the aerospace and defense industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Innovation in defense: multi-mode regenerative fuel cells. Buy the report here.

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However, not all innovations are equal and nor do they follow a constant upward trend. Instead, their evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects their typical lifecycle from early emergence to accelerating adoption, before finally stabilizing and reaching maturity.

Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerating stages, is essential for understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have.

110 innovations will shape the aerospace and defense industry

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the aerospace and defense industry using innovation intensity models built on over 206,000 patents, there are 110 innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, aircraft fuel cell APUs, self-calibrating scanners, and vibration supression devices are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Aircraft ultrasonic inspection, aircraft power distribution network, and contour scanning interferometry are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are precision-guided firearms and aircraft power management, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for the aerospace and defense industry

Multi-mode regenerative fuel cells is a key innovation area in aerospace and defense

Multi-mode regenerative fuel cells are devices that can convert chemical energy from fuel such as hydrogen and oxygen directly into electrical energy and waste heat through an electrochemical process. The unique feature of multi-mode regenerative fuel cells is the ability to work in two modes, during power generation and during energy recovery, making them ideal for applications requiring both power generation and energy storage.

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 110+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established aerospace and defense companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of multi-mode regenerative fuel cells.

Key players in multi-mode regenerative fuel cells – a disruptive innovation in the aerospace and defense industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of applications identified for each patent. It broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.   

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of countries each patent is registered in. It reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.  

Patent volumes related to multi-mode regenerative fuel cells

Company Total patents (2021 - 2023) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Liebherr-International 26 Unlock Company Profile
Rolls-Royce 31 Unlock Company Profile
Diehl Stiftung 12 Unlock Company Profile
Lockheed Martin 67 Unlock Company Profile
Compagnie Generale des Etablissements Michelin 13 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 46 Unlock Company Profile
UTC Power 16 Unlock Company Profile
IHI 30 Unlock Company Profile
Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft 17 Unlock Company Profile
Robert Bosch Stiftung 24 Unlock Company Profile
Siemens 44 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Motor 41 Unlock Company Profile
Cummins 22 Unlock Company Profile
Nissan Motor 14 Unlock Company Profile
CEA 391 Unlock Company Profile
Naval Group 120 Unlock Company Profile
Snecma 12 Unlock Company Profile
General Electric 53 Unlock Company Profile
U.S. Department of Defence 19 Unlock Company Profile
ThyssenKrupp 49 Unlock Company Profile
BAE Systems 22 Unlock Company Profile
Porsche Automobil 34 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi 22 Unlock Company Profile
Raytheon Technologies 280 Unlock Company Profile
RTX 280 Unlock Company Profile
Ballard Power Systems 78 Unlock Company Profile
Doosan 24 Unlock Company Profile
Textron 16 Unlock Company Profile
Safran 112 Unlock Company Profile
Boeing 116 Unlock Company Profile
Korea Development Bank 144 Unlock Company Profile
LG 19 Unlock Company Profile
Airbus 261 Unlock Company Profile
Commissariat a l'Energie et aux Energies Alternatives 16 Unlock Company Profile
STMicroelectronics 10 Unlock Company Profile
Deutsches Zentrum fur Luft- und Raumfahrt 16 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 50 Unlock Company Profile
Societe BIC 26 Unlock Company Profile
Kia 12 Unlock Company Profile
Korea Shipbuilding & Offshore Engineering 28 Unlock Company Profile
SZ DJI Technology 9 Unlock Company Profile
EADS Deutschland 14 Unlock Company Profile
Meditor European Master Fund 31 Unlock Company Profile
Alakai Technologies 13 Unlock Company Profile
HD Hyundai 43 Unlock Company Profile
ZeroAvia 12 Unlock Company Profile
Agency For Defense Development 50 Unlock Company Profile
Lockheed Martin Advanced Energy Storage 28 Unlock Company Profile
Universal Hydrogen 16 Unlock Company Profile
The French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission 376 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Raytheon Technologies is one of the leading patent filers in multi-mode regenerative fuel cells. The company, through its subsidiary Hamilton Sundstrand, filed patents related to methods of fuel cell assembly, hybrid power generation systems, on-board aircraft electrochemical system, and solid oxide fuel cell with water recycle.  

The company designs dependable fuel cells for challenging maritime environments. Its customized proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells are crafted to operate in various maritime settings, such as submarine and unmanned underwater vessel (UUV) air-independent propulsion (AIP) systems, as well as unmanned surface vessels (USVs) and surface ships.

Some other key patent filers in this space include RTX, Airbus, and Naval Group.  

In terms of application diversity, Textron, Diehl Stiftung, and Rolls-Royce are some of the leading innovators. By means of geographic reach, some of the leading patent filers include Lockheed Martin, Safran, and Boeing.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the aerospace and defense industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Aerospace & Defense.

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.