Methanol fuel cell powers ruggedized computers

Lightweight fuel cell powers computer for up to 14 hours.

XX25 powers a MiTAC V100 rugged laptop. UltraCell

A California company has introduced a 25-watt mobile fuel cell system designed to power a ruggedized laptop computer for up to 14 hours at a time using a single 250cc cartridge.

The XX25, as it is called, internally generates fuel cell-ready hydrogen from a highly concentrated methanol solution, providing power to a field computer and communications equipment at weight savings of up to 65 percent, according to Livermore, Calif.-based UltraCell.


Fuel cells are electrochemical devices that use hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity, and continue to produce it as long as the fuel lasts. This is not only ecologically correct, but it also weighs less. The company calculates that on a typical 72-hour mission, each soldier requires 27 pounds of rechargeable military batteries.

The Army's Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center (CERDEC) and DARPA (PDF) have extended UltraCell's development contract so that tests can continue. A year ago, CERDEC deemed the 25-watt model safe enough to be worn by soldiers in the field and used to power portable devices, a first for this type of fuel cell.

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