By C.E. Howard
LIVERMORE, Calif. - The U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development, and Engineering Center’s (CERDEC) Army Power Division at Fort Monmouth, N.J., has approved a limited Safety Assessment Report (SAR) for the XX25 reformed methanol fuel-cell system from UltraCell Corp. in Livermore, Calif.
The SAR certifies that the XX25, a 25-watt mobile fuel-cell system, is safe to be used and worn by soldiers in the field to power portable devices. The SAR approval, a first in the fuel-cell segment, qualifies the unit for limited field trials, which will take place before the end of the summer.
“This unit has been thoroughly tested in regards to soldier safety and is now approved to be worn on soldiers and used for powering various soldier electronics, including embedded computers, PDAs and ruggedized laptops,” says Phil Klimek, safety engineer, C-E LCMC Directorate for Safety at Fort Monmouth.
“This approval represents a significant step for the XX25 and allows testing in field environments, which is an important accomplishment for fuel-cell technology,” explains Beth Bostic, CERDEC fuel cell-team leader and program manager for the UltraCell XX25 development effort. “CERDEC is committed to the development of soldier power fuel-cell units for extended run-time missions, and intends to see the technology through to deployment in the military.”
UltraCell’s RMFC technology involves reforming a concentrated methanol solution to generate fuel-cell-ready hydrogen, providing soldiers in the field efficient, reliable mobile power for their portable electronic devices.
The XX25 was developed, with funding by CERDEC, to deliver lightweight, energy-dense, pouch-pocket-size fuel-cell power to U.S. forces on extended missions. It is capable of running a ruggedized laptop computer for up to three working days on a single fuel-cell cartridge. For stationary applications, such as remote video monitoring, the XX25 can be configured with large volumes of fuel to deliver weeks of runtime.
The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is evaluating the XX25 as a power source for its battlefield renewable integrated tactical energy system (BRITES). The XX25 can increase runtime and lower overall mission equipment weight, due to its higher energy density. The XX25 also is being considered for several international soldier power programs in Asia and Europe, says W. Bruce Pharr, vice president of marketing, UltraCell Corp..
“The UltraCell XX25 just completed MIL-STD 810F tests for altitude, temperature cycling, solar radiation, humidity, dust, vibration, functional shock, acidic atmosphere, icing, and freezing rain,” Pharr continues. “I believe this is another fuel-cell industry first.”