INI Power Systems Achieves Fuel Cell Technical Milestone

November 02, 2005 by Jeff Shepard

INI Power Systems Inc. (Cary, NC) announced that it has achieved an important technical milestone in the development of its direct-methanol laminar flow fuel cell (LFFC®) for consumer and military portable power applications. In achieving the technical milestone, INI Power has demonstrated that the LFFC stack exceeds current direct-methanol fuel cell (DMFC) stack performance under commercially viable operating conditions. The milestone event triggers the release of the remaining funds raised from Series A investors as part of a $3 million financing completed July 2004.

The LFFC stack prototype has demonstrated electrochemical performance at low-to-moderate temperatures utilizing methanol and ambient air. This was accomplished through a new stack design that limits methanol crossover and remains water-neutral. Using flexible circuit materials and processes, the LFFC stack design confirms INI Power's approach to simplifying manufacturability and lowering cost.

INI Power has worldwide exclusivity to the LFFC concept, and has patented key improvements to overcome the technical performance issues that have delayed the commercialization of conventional DMFCs in the power range of 10 W to 250 W, including cathode flooding, water management, fuel crossover, and fuel efficiency. The LFFC overcomes these obstacles by taking advantage of the laminar flow properties of liquids within micro-fluidic channels, which simply means that two or more discrete fluids can flow together in physical contact, with little to no intermixing, while maintaining ionic conductivity.

The LFFC does not require a conventional membrane electrode assembly, simplifying manufacture and reducing cost. The system is air-breathing, incorporating an ambient gas stream and gas diffusion electrode for internal gas exchange. The design provides an overall dynamic system that is much like living organisms, that utilize flowing liquids and air to create a "fuel-cell-like mobile power source" adaptable to a wide range of environmental conditions, flexible in operation and linearly scalable to larger or smaller sizes.