AlumiFuel Power Developing Man Portable Fuel Cell Power Source Aimed at Large Market

August 15, 2010 by Jeff Shepard

AlumiFuel Power, Inc. (API), the wholly owned operating subsidiary of AlumiFuel Power Corp., announced that it has begun development of a soldier/man portable PEM fuel cell hydrogen generator based on the same aluminum-water technology used to generate hydrogen with the PBIS-1000 Portable Balloon Inflation System already in the hands of customers. The man portable system is designed to generate enough hydrogen to power a 25-500W fuel cell.

API and its portable power partner, Ingenium Technologies, Inc., are aggressively pursuing specific man portable power opportunities and have already submitted a proposal in response to a Department of Defense solicitation. In order to complete a 72 hour mission requiring 25W of power, the soldier must currently carry 21 lbs. of batteries using the BA5390 lithium/manganese dioxide primary (non-rechargeable) battery. A similar AlumiFuel system would weigh less than half that.

The soldier/man portable hydrogen generator is a lightweight unit (under 10 lbs) using a similar AlumiFuel cartridge configuration as is used in the PBIS-1000. However unlike the PBIS-1000, which generates 1000 liters of hydrogen in 20 minutes, this man portable system will generate the same amount of hydrogen, but over a longer period of time -- from 4-72 hours depending on cartridge size and required power level. Eventually API’s man portable hydrogen generator will be fully integrated with a fuel cell. The system could replace current batteries used by the US Army to power radios and other electronics on the battlefield. API’s system has 4-5 times the energy density (runtime) of lithium batteries presently being used, and does not have any drop in power towards the end of its run. The system will also not lose efficiency in very hot and cold working conditions as batteries are prone to do.

According to the company, competing hydrogen storage/fuel cell technologies for soldier/man portable power such as methanol reformers and metal hydrides have drawbacks. Reformers run at temperatures that can exceed 100°C and have start-up times that exceed 15 minutes, while API’s system starts in less than two minutes. API’s system has higher hydrogen storage densities than both technologies, is less expensive, runs at much lower temperatures, generates no green house gases, and contains no toxic materials.

API’s Director of Engineering Sean McIntosh said, "This ground-based man portable technology fits very nicely with our current hydrogen generation development work on the PBIS-1000 and our hydrogen generation development for powering Unmanned Undersea Vehicles (UUVs) under an R&D contract with the US Navy."