PORTLAND, Ore. DuPont Fuel Cells and German partner Smart Fuel Cell (SFC) AG have grabbed a $1 million first prize in the Defense Department's Wearable Power Prize competition.
DuPont (Wilmington, Del.) and SFC AG (Brunnthal, Germany) entered an advanced prototype of SFC's direct-methanol fuel cell (DMFC) called the M-25 Land Warrior Soldier Power Generator.
Second place went to Adaptive Materials Inc. (Ann Arbor, Mich.) for a vest-mounted version of its Amie25, a solid-oxide fuel cell. Third place went to Capitol Connections LLC (Middleburg, Va.) for its DMFC based on SFC's commercial Jenny Portable Power System.
All three used a hybrid approach, in which the fuel cell charged batteries, which in turn provided electrical power to devices.
"The fact that hybrid fuel cells won all three prizes is a strong endorsement for that technology over conventional batteries," said James Stephens, founder of Capitol Connections.
DoD launched the Wearable Power Prize competition in July 2007, offering $1 million first prize for wearable power systems that provided 20 watts of electrical power for 96 hours. Entries had to weigh less than 4 kilograms (8.8 pounds) and could attach to a standard military vest. From the initial 169 entries, the field was narrowed to 20.
Only six survived the next phase: a 92-hour bench test that discharged 1,840 W/hour. The last four hours tested the six finalists in field tests using real loads on the already partially discharged power packs.
"The last four hours was the survivor-mode competition, where the six teams went head-to-head with the vests being worn by a team member going through a field test consisting of nine different stations where they powered machinery and equipment that simulated various loads that the military might use," said U.S. Navy Commander Darryn James.