Military fuel cell research for lightweight energy storage is aim of UltraCell contract

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB, Ohio, 3 Dec. 2009. Energy storage experts at UltraCell Corp. in Livermore, Calif., will investigate ways to improve portable 50-Watt fuel cell power storage technology to provide dense, lightweight power sources for soldiers in the field under terms of a $3 million contract from the U.S. Air Force.

Posted by John Keller

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB, Ohio, 3 Dec. 2009.Energy storage experts at UltraCell Corp. in Livermore, Calif., will investigate ways to improve portable 50-Watt fuel cellpower storage technology to provide dense, lightweight military power sources for soldiers in the field under terms of a $3 million contract from the U.S. Air Force.

Scientists at the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, awarded the contract to UltraCell on 2 Dec. for energy storage research aimed at energy density, system reliability, high cycle life, and ruggedization of 50-Watt fuel cells.

A fuel cell generates electricity through the reaction of a fuel, such as hydrogen, with oxygen from the outside air. Fuel cells, unlike cell batteries, can operate continuously for as long as the supply of fuel is maintained. Batteries, on the other hand, are closed systems that store electrical energy chemically.

The idea is to increase the amount of electrical energy to soldiers in the field to power a variety of communications, sensor, display, and weapons-control systems while reducing the amount of weight soldiers must carry in the form of conventional batteries.

Under terms of the contract(BAA-03-05-PRK, Amendment 17), UltraCell researchers will evaluate existing 50-Watt soldier-portable electrical power technology, and continue to enhance the ruggedization, reliability, power density, and startup time of portable fuel cell technology, with three-day (72-hour) soldier missions in mind.

This research initiative is part of the Air Force Research Lab's Power and Thermal Technologies for Air and Space (PTTAS) program.

UltraCell specializes in reformed methanol micro fuel cell (RMFC) technology, which was invented at the U. S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Most recently, the company won a contract to provide portable power for electronic devices and recharging military batteries during the Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiment (AEWE) at the Maneuver Battle Lab (MBL) in Fort Benning, Ga., in early 2010.

The seven-week AEWE conducts battlefield networking experiments through live force-on-force and simulations.

UltraCell's XX25 fuel cells will power military equipment including PRC-119F ASIP radios, rugged notebook computers, and long range thermal video (LRTV) systems, as well as recharge BB-2590 and Li-80/145 military batteries.

The XX25 is capable of delivering 72 hours of continuous runtime using one fuel tank. For more information contact UltraCell Corp. online at www.ultracellpower.com.

More information about UltraCell's contract with the Air Force Research Lab is online at https://www.fbo.gov/spg/USAF/AFMC/AFRLWRS/BAA-03-05-PRK-CALL-AMD17/listing.html.

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