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Neah successfully tests anaerobic direct methanol fuel cell prototype

US-based Neah Power Systems has demonstrated a new type of liquid electrolyte-based direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC), which does not require air to operate. The reliable, non-PEM-based fuel cell system has been proven in sustained operation. The silicon-based DMFC approach is claimed to promise low cost with high reliability and power.

The DMFC prototype was self-contained, and sized to generate 8 W of gross power. The methanol cartridges were replaced several times, and repeatable performance was demonstrated.

‘This technology is singular, in that it can operate in places where air isn’t available,’ comments Dr Chris D’Couto, president/CEO of Neah. ‘This system can service many specialized markets, such as underwater and surface water manned and unmanned vehicles, as well as numerous aerospace applications, and will be the building block for fuel cell solutions for Hobie Cat and other key customers.’

Neah recently signed a DMFC technology license agreement with Hobie Cat Company in California, a leading manufacturer of sail and fishing boats, to jointly explore utilizing Neah’s patented, silicon-based fuel cell systems to power various boat products using renewable, cost-efficient methanol.

Neah is developing fuel cells for the military and for portable electronic devices. It uses a unique, silicon-based design for micro fuel cells that it says enables higher power densities, lower cost and compact form-factors. The company’s DMFC technology can run in aerobic and anaerobic modes.

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