Portable DMFC Battery Charger with Optimized Components

Period of Performance: 10/28/2003 - 10/28/2005


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Mesoscopic Devices, LLC
510 Compton Street, Suite 106
Broomfield, CO 80020
Principal Investigator


Mesoscopic Devices proposes to develop an advanced lightweight direct methanol fuel cell battery charger that will operate on concentrated methanol. Our design is based on a system-level optimization approach that minimizes the size and power draw of the auxiliary components while maximizing the stack output. In Phase I, we demonstrated the feasibility of two key components required for a system to operate on concentrated methanol, a compact, low power draw methanol concentration sensor with rapid response and a lightweight water recovery sub-system. In Phase II, we will advance the development of these two components and incorporate them into a complete DMFC/battery hybrid demonstration. This demonstration unit will include advanced methanol pumps and air blowers developed at Mesoscopic Devices under other DOD programs, and controls and carbon dioxide separation initially developed by Mesoscopic Devices for commercial clients. A DMFC battery charger, combined with rechargeable lithium batteries would be a near-term fieldable system for powering electronics for the individual soldier. A single DMFC/battery hybrid could replace multiple batteries, with weight savings up to 50 pounds per soldier for 10 day missions. Lightweight, quiet systems for recharging batteries in the field will enhance our warfighting capability, particularly for reconnaissance missions. The DMFC system can also be configured to directly power specific devices, eliminating the need for a swappable battery when appropriate. In addition to the military markets, we plan to commercialize the components developed in this program for consumer electronics DMFC systems. Many portable electronic devices would benefit from the extended operating periods possible with DMFCs operating on concentrated methanol. Like the military systems, these commercial devices will also require similar advances in methanol concentration sensors, water recover and other components to meet their targets for weight and size. Specific commercial applications include professional video equipment, laptop computers and remote sensors.