U.K.-based Ultra Electronics Holdings has acquired Adaptive Materials, a Michigan-based solid oxide fuel cell developer for $23 million. According to an Adaptive Materials press release, the company will continue to develop and manufacture propane-powered fuel cell systems.

Adaptive Materials designs and manufactures portable fuel cells in the 50-300 W range. Its solid oxide fuel cells run on propane. The company says that propane fuel cells can deliver nine times the energy density of conventional batteries.

2010 appeared to be a good year for Adaptive Materials. Back in March the company won $3 million in new funding through Michigan’s Centers of Energy Excellence Program. In September they were awarded a $750,000 contract to manufacture energy software for the battlefield and received $2.5 million in DARPA funding for portable fuel cells for the U.S. Army. The Army then awarded them $12 million for fuel cell research in November.

Ultra Electronics and Adaptive Materials seems to be a good fit. Ultra Electronics is also a defense company, also focusing on aerospace applications. If things go as planned, Ultra Electronics will offer an additional $5 million to the sale of Adaptive Materials. Certain performance-based measures must be achieved by December 13, 2013 for that bonus to qualify. Lucky number 13?

As a side note, Ultra Electronics says it will keep everyone currently employed at Adaptive, and still hopes to fill the 10 employment positions that Adaptive has open.

For more information about Adaptive Materials, see our 2009 Bulletin story (Flash or PDF) regarding the company’s successful participation in DARPA’s Wearable Power Prize competition.