Traveling Light

Micro fuel cells could give soldiers less weight to carry

3 min read

Most of us rely heavily on our cellphones, PDAs, and laptops, but we don’t generally see a dead battery as a matter of life or death. It’s entirely different, of course, for soldiers out in the field, whose survival depends on battery power for their global positioning units, communications systems, infrared goggles, and other electronic equipment [see photo, ” ”].

On a three-day mission, for example, a Special Forces soldier might lug along 12 kilograms of batteries. But now the military is developing a lighter replacement: micro fuel cells. These fuel cells could weigh half as much as batteries, and unlike the ­batteries, they could be recharged—or rather refilled. They would cost less, too—about US $800, says Rex Luzader, vice president of government relations at Millennium Cell Inc., in Eatontown, N.J., which is working on a fuel cell system with Protonex Technology Corp. of Southborough, Mass. For a 72-hour mission, a soldier might have to carry more than a dozen throwaway lithium-ion batteries, which would cost about $1040, Luzader says.

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This photograph shows a car with the words “We Drive Solar” on the door, connected to a charging station. A windmill can be seen in the background.

The Dutch city of Utrecht is embracing vehicle-to-grid technology, an example of which is shown here—an EV connected to a bidirectional charger. The historic Rijn en Zon windmill provides a fitting background for this scene.

We Drive Solar

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