Feeds

German methanol unit wins Pentagon portable-power prize

Fuel-cell/battery combos sweep the rankings

3 Big data security analytics techniques

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. ®

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

More from The Register

next story
EU: Let's cost financial traders $400m a day, because EVIL BANKERS. Right?
Wait 'til this one hits your pension fund where it hurts
Systems meltdown plunges US immigration courts into pen-and-paper stone age
Massive outage could last four weeks, sources claim
Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over protecting Snowden, customers
Judges rule complaints about government power are too little, too late
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
Record labels sue Pandora over vintage song royalties
Companies want payout on recordings made before 1972
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Edward Snowden on his Putin TV appearance: 'Why all the criticism?'
Denies Q&A cameo was meant to slam US, big-up Russia
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Judge halts spread of zombie Nortel patents to Texas in Google trial
Epic Rockstar patent war to be waged in California
prev story

Whitepapers

Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.