UltraCell® Fuel Cell Successfully Passes Military Field Tests

February 19, 2008 by Jeff Shepard

UltraCell Corp., a producer of reformed methanol fuel cells (RMFCs) for mobile power applications, announced that its UltraCell XX25™ portable fuel cell has been successfully tested in U.S. Army training missions at the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC), and has achieved Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 7 status, demonstrating operation in relevant environments. Based in Ft. Polk, Louisiana, the JRTC is the U.S. Army’s premier training center for light infantry and special operation units, providing highly realistic arms training. The center’s exercise scenarios replicate many of the unique situations and challenges a military unit encounters during deployment.

The U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center (CERDEC) coordinated with the JRTC to have Soldiers evaluate the UltraCell XX25 reformed methanol fuel cell. As part of the evaluation and feedback collection process, Soldiers were trained to operate the XX25 fuel cell, support equipment integration and use the fuel cells in various mission scenarios. The XX25 fuel cell significantly reduces the number of batteries a Soldier needs to power equipment on extended missions, as it uses readily available low-cost methanol fuel in a convenient, compact package.

The XX25 fuel cells were also used to power military radios and laptop computers over the course of six days of testing in various scenarios. Specifically, the fuel cells were used to power Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio Systems (SINCGARS) Advanced System Improvement Program (ASIP) radios for 12-hour missions, as well as in observation and sniper posts and dismounted squads. In addition to the field missions, the fuel cells powered notebook computers in office environments where the fuel cells operated 24 hours a day with methanol fuel cartridges which were replaced at 12-15 hour intervals.

The fuel cells were tested using MOLLE (Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment)-compatible pouches and were also attached to backpacks worn by Soldiers during some of the radio applications field training. There were no recorded failures in any mission scenario and each XX25 fuel cell unit was returned in working order. Weather conditions during the testing ranged from 50-91°F with light precipitation.

"This field demonstration is a critical step in our objective to provide a portable fuel cell power solution for the U.S. Military," said Ian Kaye, UltraCell’s Director of Advanced Technology. "The positive testing results support what we knew to be true, indicating that our system has reached a high level of readiness for secure, dependable field operation and integration with current military equipment. We look forward to supplying the XX25 for both military and non-military applications."