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October 12th, 2008

DuPont takes DOD wearable power prize

Published on October 12th, 2008 | By: pwray@ceramics.org

The DuPont/Smart Fuel Cell Team came out the million-dollar winner Oct. 8 in the Department of Defense’s Wearable Power Prize competition. DuPont is based in Delaware and SFC is headquartered in Brunnthal, Germany. DuPont has a minority stake in SFC and the group’s methanol-powered pack actually began to be deployed among combatants this summer:

“Our fuel cell technology represents a major breakthrough in portability that will benefit soldiers through significant weight reduction, while providing a prolonged source of power,” said Cynthia Green, VP and general manager of DuPont Fluoroproducts.

The contest was launched in the summer of 2007, initiated by the DOD’s Research and Engineering Directorate to fuel innovation and competition to develop a long-life, light-weight power pack for soldiers. Initially, 169 groups submitted entries. The group was narrowed to six finalists that were put to another round of testing Oct. 4 at the Marine Corps’ Air Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms, Calif. The minimum requirement was that the power packs had to be able to produced 20 watts average power for 96 hours and weigh less than 4 kilograms. According to the DOD news release, the winner’s power pack operated longer than the minimum, but offered no specifics:

DuPont/SFC won the competition by building the lightest wearable system that provided an average of 20 watts of power for more than 96 hours and weighed less than 4,000 grams, or 8.8 pounds.

Adaptive Materials of Ann Arbor, Mich., won  $500,000 for second place for their propane fueled solid oxide fuel cell. Jenny 600S of Middleburg, Va., won the $250,000 third place prize. DOD seems happy with the results of the competition:

“The winners, and really all the teams that competed, have moved wearable power technology forward,” said William Rees Jr., the deputy under secretary for defense laboratories and basic sciences. “But the real winners from this competition are our ground warfighters, as these systems show great promise to reduce the weight of batteries they have to carry while performing their critical missions.” Rees, who sponsored the DOD Wearable Power Prize, also hopes this competition will inspire scientists and engineers. “The rules we developed for this DOD competition attracted small businesses, individual inventors, and large companies alike,” said Rees. “Our nation has tremendous capacity for innovation, so we hope that this and future competitions also motivates the scientific community to continue important advancements in technology.” . . . “The M-25 has the capability to revolutionize wearable portable power sources in the field by extending soldier-mission times to 72 hours and beyond,” said Col. Richard Hansen, project manager of the Soldier Warrior program of the U.S. Army.


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