Man Portable Power System Based on Lightweight Monopolar Fuel Cells

Period of Performance: 03/15/1995 - 09/15/1995


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Lynntech, Inc.
Principal Investigator


Each individual soldier is becoming increasingly dependent on electronics and this dependency requires greater amounts of electrical power. Before long these requirements will exceed the capabilities of batteries and a new system will be required. Proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells have the capabilities needed to fill that need. PEM fuel cells are capable of generating electricity efficiently, with high power to weight and power to volume rations and excellent load following. PEM fuel cells are superior to other fuel cell types for small portable applications. The active electrolyte is a solid polymeric sheet instead of a corrosive liquid supported in a solid matrix. The PEM stack is capable of operating at ambient temperatures and pressures and requires no preconditioning or clean-up of the air supply. Most current fuel cell stacks require significant support hardware for air supply and fuel gas handling and humidification. The proposed system eliminates all of this. The use of monopolar design with an ambient air cathode has eliminated the need for an air handling system. The use of a common hydrogen manifold for the entire stack both simplifies construction and eliminates the need for any gas handling on the fuel side beyond a step-down regulator for the hydrogen supply. This rugged, innovative design can supply the power needed in a small, light weight unit.