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Samsung SDI develops military portable direct methanol fuel cell

In Korea, Samsung SDI has announced that it has developed highly efficient portable direct methanol fuel cells for military use. The power sources generate 54% more power than existing models, and have enhanced durability, up to eight times that of previous models. The DMFC uses a methanol fuel cartridge developed and delivered by US-based Direct Methanol Fuel Cell Corporation.

The high-performance DMFC power source can provide 1.8 kWh of electric power before it needs to be refueled, which is equivalent to a soldier using it for three days in the field. It will now undergo field tests before shipping from 2010, according to a report in The Korea Times.

‘We will commercialize the direct methanol fuel cell for military use from 2010,’ said a company spokesman. ‘We expect talks to start for the provision of the cells to portable devices in US military barracks in South Korea.’

Samsung SDI also revealed that it has completed fuel cell performance tests for 72 h mission operation with the US Army’s Communications-Electronics Research and Development Engineering Center (CERDEC) in Virginia. The company’s plans for mass production include fuel cells not only for military applications, but expanding the platform to include mobile electronics, such as notebook computers, and industrial equipment. ‘We will make it more versatile so it can be used for laptop and portable devices,’ added the spokesman.

The fuel cartridge was developed by DMFCC, the fuel cell subsidiary of Viaspace Inc, under a contract with Samsung. Using the liquid methanol fuel cartridge, Samsung’s military-grade DMFC system produces the same energy as batteries two to three times its weight, at a cost per kWh that is between 50% and 98% lower than batteries. Samsung’s fuel cell may be operated in any orientation, a key requirement for military applications.

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