Methanol Micro Fuel Cell System gets U.S. Army backing
By Mike Hanlon
June 7, 2006
June 8, 2006 We first wrote about UltraCell’s portable micro fuel cells last year and readership surged in March this year when we announced the company’s new hot-swappable fuel cell system could run a laptop for several days. The company gained further momentum this week when it was announced that it has received a contract from the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development, and Engineering Center’s (CERDEC) Army Power Division to accelerate development of the XX25, a 25-watt reformed methanol fuel cell, for use as a portable power device for soldiers. The contract will drive advanced system design for the UltraCell unit to operate in extreme operating temperatures and withstand severe shock and vibration. The XX25 has up to a 75% weight advantage over currently available military rechargeable batteries, based on a 72-hour mission at 20 watts. The XX25 also reduces operational costs through the reduction of throwaway primary batteries and the logistic burden of recharging batteries. In addition to the military’s field testing of the XX25, UltraCell is now seeking lead beta site customers in critical markets for testing a commercial version, the UC25.
“We are encouraged by the continued interest of CERDEC and the U.S. military in the XX25,” said James Kaschmitter, CEO of UltraCell, “It supports our current efforts to bring the unit to full production later this year, and the UC25 commercial version, early next year.”
“This award reflects the continued advancement of the technology readiness level of the XX25,” noted Beth Bostic, CERDEC Fuel Cell Team Leader, “and the continued commitment of CERDEC in the development of Soldier power fuel cell units for military adaptation and transition.”
UltraCell’s methanol micro fuel cell systems provide “Totally wireless – portable power anytime, anywhere”. Both the XX25 and UC25, for example, will be able to run a ruggedized laptop computer for up to three working days on a single fuel cell cartridge. It will run other portable electronic devices for emergency responders, operating off of simple and inexpensive methanol cartridges. The XX25 and UC25 can also be configured with large volumes of fuel for weeks of runtime in stationary applications such as remote video monitoring
UltraCell’s patented reformed methanol fuel cell (RMFC) system internally generates fuel-cell-ready hydrogen from a highly concentrated methanol solution. The new portable power system thus has the power density of a hydrogen fuel cell but uses readily available, low cost methanol fuel in a convenient, compact cartridge.