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A portable energy source for all weather

​Liten, a CEA Tech institute, and Safran recently developed a new low-mass, high-energy-density hybrid energy source that can operate within a wide temperature range. The R&D was commissioned by the French Directorate General for Armaments.

Published on 9 March 2017

France’s Directorate General for Armaments turned to Liten, a CEA Tech institute, and Safran Electronics & Defense to shave half of the weight off of the energy sources integrated into the Felin system that powers soldiers’ electronic vests. The goal was to improve both and comfort and battery life.

The systems are currently powered by Li-ion batteries. Liten and Safran came up with a concept that combines a fuel cell and a smaller battery (for start-up and peak current draw). And, with a capacity of 10 W to 30 W, a large operating-temperature range of -20 °C to 44 °C, 72-hour battery life, and half the weight of Li-ion battery packs, the energy source developed offers some desirable features.

The researchers developed a fuel cell and hydrogen cartridge capable of operating within the target temperature range. The system generates hydrogen on demand by triggering a reaction between water and a hydride, eliminating the need for pressurized gas. “We had to use an additive to get the system to work at low temperatures,” said one of the researchers. The partners also developed the energy management system and designed the mechanical integration of the energy source.

The technology is safe, reliable, and robust, making it a good candidate for a variety of portable fuel cell applications, from drones to off-grid mobile chargers and generators.

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