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[extreme tech] Methanol Fuel Cell Powers Military Laptops

post #1 of 7
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Methanol Fuel Cell Powers Military Laptops

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California -based company UltraCell has developed a 25 watt fuel cell that can power the military's rugged laptops for up to eight hours on eight-and-a-half ounces of methanol. Intrigued, the acronym happy folks at the Defense Advance Research Project Agency (DARPA ) and the U.S. Army Communications -Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center (CERDEC) have thrown their support behind the project, granting UltraCell a follow-on contract (PDF) to refine their fuel cell tech for laptop-toting soldiers in the field.

The device, dubbed the XX25, converts a concentrated methanol solution into hydrogen, which is then used by the fuel cell to power computers and communication devices. While a small canister of fuel can keep devices going for hours, UltraCell says their system can be configured with large tanks for stationary tasks like surveillance and remote video monitoring.

"This new contract will drive advanced system design and provide units for further military field demonstrations and field testing," said Keith Scott, CEO of UltraCell, in a statement. "We look forward to continuing to supply the XX25 for both military and non-military applications."

It's strictly military for now, though, with CNET reporting that the current tech weighs up to 65 percent less than a comparable cache of batteries. In February, the military awarded the XX25 Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 7 status, deeming it safe enough to be worn by soldiers in the field. The company is also working with the England's infantry.

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Edited by trueg50 - 6/25/08 at 10:32am
    
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post #2 of 7
Yea saw that a day or two ago..at first it seemed a bit dangerous..but if its that light...id probably want it if i was a soldier walking miles a day with it on my back lol
post #3 of 7
It converts methanol to hydrogen? That sounds really hard to believe. I think it's more likely they don't know what they're talking about, and that these are just Direct Methanol Fuel Cells(DMFCs), which feed Methanol solutions directly.
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post #4 of 7
I'm pretty sure that hydrogen is less flammable than gasoline, so I don't know why lots of people are scared of hydrogen powered cars blowing up like zeppelins...
Cool, I want one of these methanol converter dewhickies for my phone, my computer (for when the power is out , and I'll have to get a laptop to use one of these too
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post #5 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by nategr8ns View Post
I'm pretty sure that hydrogen is less flammable than gasoline, so I don't know why lots of people are scared of hydrogen powered cars blowing up like zeppelins...
Cool, I want one of these methanol converter dewhickies for my phone, my computer (for when the power is out , and I'll have to get a laptop to use one of these too
hydrogen is much more flammable. Under pressure(as it would be in cars) it's even more dangerous. It's not a methanol converter, it's a direct methanol fuel cell. It's more effective to just use methanol than to convert it to hydrogen.
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post #6 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by ryboto View Post
hydrogen is much more flammable. Under pressure(as it would be in cars) it's even more dangerous. It's not a methanol converter, it's a direct methanol fuel cell. It's more effective to just use methanol than to convert it to hydrogen.
I am not understanding this at all either. Heck, if they wanted hydrogen it is easier to split a hydrogen off of water then it would be some thing like methenol...and there would a lot of things easier then water too.

I mean you could just as well use gasoline and split H+'s off of that
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post #7 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vagrant Storm View Post
I am not understanding this at all either. Heck, if they wanted hydrogen it is easier to split a hydrogen off of water then it would be some thing like methenol...and there would a lot of things easier then water too.

I mean you could just as well use gasoline and split H+'s off of that
Methanol is already proven, DMFCs are efficient, gasoline fuel cells have yet to really be researched.
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