UltraCell, Protonex to expand fuel-cell technology for military apps

UltraCell and Protonex Technology Corp. have teamed up to expand fuel-cell technology for the military with the goal of delivering low-weight, portable power to warfighters.

Fuel-cell systems can be worn or connected to devices to power remote applications. For example, a service member can carry it along with small fuel cartridges that contain certified ultra-pure methanol.

The systems can power devices such as night-vision equipment, global positioning system devices, radio systems and rugged laptop PCs. Also, fuel cells can be used with, or directly mounted on, military vehicles as a charging unit in the field.

The companies plan to collaborate with other industry leaders to establish a common standard for methanol refueling solutions for military and commercial applications, officials from both companies said.

To advance fuel cell power solutions for warfighters in the field, UltraCell will integrate the company’s XX25 and XX55 reformed methanol fuel cell systems with Protonex's Soldier Power Manager and Battlefield Power Manager products.

The products are complementary because UltraCell's systems target applications that require up to 100 watts of power, while Protonex's fuel cell systems are aimed at powering applications that need between 100 watts and 1,000 watts, the officials said.

UltraCell and Protonex plan to jointly seek government funding for the development and delivery of integrated fuel cell power equipment based on both companies' product platforms, officials said.

The Department of Defense has stepped up efforts to work with companies to integrate fuel cell technology into mobile and off-the grid applications. UltraCell is working with the Army to develop fuel-cell systems for mobile applications and increase the performance of equipment that must operate at high altitudes and temperatures.

The Air Force Special Operations Command is evaluating technology from SFC Smart Fuel Cell to reduce the battery weight special forces carry into the field and eventually power unmanned aerial vehicles.

About the Author

Rutrell Yasin is is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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