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Protonex wins US Army contract to advance solid oxide fuel cell systems

Fuel cell developer Protonex Technology Corporation has received a contract award of up to $1.0 million, through the University of South Carolina (USC) Research Foundation and WinTec Arrowmaker, to build, test and deliver solid oxide fuel cell power systems to the US Army.

Under the 12-month contract, Protonex will continue to develop a fully integrated liquid fuel generator system. As part of the program, Protonex will increase the specific energy of the system through advanced fuel cell and stack development, and will increase the lifetime and reliability through rigorous testing of the completed systems.

At the conclusion of the program, Protonex is expected to deliver multiple liquid-fueled solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) power systems to the Army for further testing and evaluation.

There is growing military and commercial interest in the use of common liquid fuels, including alternative or renewable fuels. The solid oxide fuel cell, with its low emissions and high efficiency, is well suited to generate electricity from these high-energy-density fuel sources.

Fuel-flexible fuel cell generators capable of operating on both traditional and alternative liquid fuels can provide highly efficient electricity generation from both today’s transportation fuels and the biofuels of tomorrow.

Development of these small SOFC systems will provide the military with lightweight, extremely quiet, and fuel-efficient power systems that can be used as auxiliary power units (APUs), portable generators, or field battery chargers.

With further anticipated improvements, Protonex’s portable SOFC units could save more than 60% of the weight of existing power solutions. When used to power equipment directly, the fuel cell systems offer potential savings of more than 80% of the weight burden of primary batteries.

‘The US military has shown much interest in advanced portable power solutions for military applications, with even greater interest in systems that can operate on multiple liquid fuels,’ says Dr Caine Finnerty, Director of SOFC Development for Protonex. ‘This program will allow us to develop further our liquid-fueled systems for military testing, and enable us to accelerate the conversion of our leading-edge SOFC systems for military and commercial markets.’

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