Feeds

German methanol unit wins Pentagon portable-power prize

Fuel-cell/battery combos sweep the rankings

Website security in corporate America

The US defence department has announced the winner of its "Wearable Power Prize", a contest to develop a portable powerpack which could lessen the crippling load of batteries carried by modern soldiers. The $1m purse has been taken by US firm DuPont, partnered with Germany's SFC (Smart Fuel Cell).

The prize, inaugurated last year, initially attracted 169 competing teams. These were whittled down to twenty in preliminary testing. All the entries had to weigh less than 4kg, be suitable for attachment to a soldier's combat webbing, and offer energy density better than any available battery technology.

The surviving 20 contenders went forward to the semi-finals, a 92-hour bench test discharging 1,840 watt-hours of juice (20 watts output over time). Just six powerpacks made it through this test without running flat.

These six then went into the final event without being recharged. They faced a four-hour series of "field tests", with the systems worn by a team member and dispensing a further 80 watt-hours to power real equipment in typical military applications. These included running a laptop, a Land Warrior wearable-smartphone rig, a thermal scope, heated and cooled garments, a water purifier and an inflation pump.

Those which got through the final were then ranked by weight, with DuPont/SFC's "M-25" system coming in first at 3.76kg. The M-25 used a methanol fuel cell, hybridised with a battery pack to store the cell's output for better peak-load performance. Overall it held almost two kilowatt-hours.

Second and third places, winning a half-million and a quarter-million dollars, went to Adaptive Materials Inc (AMI)'s "Amie25" and Capitol Connections' "Jenny 600S". Both these systems - like all those which reached the final - used hybridised fuel cells too, though of different types to the winning M-25.

The winning methanol powerpack weighs a fifth what an equivalent amount of military batteries would, and its fuel is easily stored and handled in a military context. With a modern foot soldier's mission endurance typically limited much more by batteries than by food or ammunition, the technology would seem to have a bright future. Safety and heating concerns which have long delayed commercial applications will probably not be so much of a barrier in the military: soldiers who routinely carry grenades, demolition charges and even portable missiles will not find a methanol powerpack unacceptably hazardous.

"Fuel cells are the portable and off-grid power sources of the future," said Peter Podesser, CEO of SFC Smart Fuel Cell. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
JINGS! Microsoft Bing called Scots indyref RIGHT!
Redmond sporran metrics get one in the ten ring
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Murdoch to Europe: Inflict MORE PAIN on Google, please
'Platform for piracy' must be punished, or it'll kill us in FIVE YEARS
Bono: Apple will sort out monetising music where the labels failed
Remastered so hard it would be difficult or impossible to master it again
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Sony says year's losses will be FOUR TIMES DEEPER than thought
Losses of more than $2 BILLION loom over troubled Japanese corp
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.