Neah Power Systems has announced that $3.5 million for porous silicon-based direct methanol fuel cell research and development has been included in the House version of the Fiscal Year 2006 Department of Defense Appropriations Bill. This funding would support Neah Power’s continued development of silicon-based fuel cell technology for portable military applications and devices, such as man-pack radio systems carried by soldiers. The silicon-based architecture is expected to set a new standard in micro fuel cell technology by scaling to high power densities and operating efficiencies, leading to small physical form factors. Final funding for this project will be determined in a House/Senate conference later this year.
Congressman Jay Inslee (WA-01), who represents the district in which Neah Power Systems is located, was instrumental in securing this funding. "This funding is important for Neah Power's efforts to continue developing cutting edge fuel cell technology,” said Inslee. “These fuel cells will help our soldiers in the field because they last longer, are lighter and more energy efficient than typical batteries. I am pleased that the House recognizes the innovative work that Neah Power is conducting on fuel cell research.”
Neah Power’s fuel cell systems have the potential to be small, lightweight and durable—characteristics that are ideal for portable and remote military applications. The military uses large quantities of portable batteries today, mostly in the form of the BA-5590 model that powers communications gear and other portable applications.
According to a recent Smith Barney research report, the U.S. Marines used approximately 3000 batteries per day during the first two weeks of Operation Iraqi Freedom. When extrapolated, this means a usage rate of over 4 million units per year for the military overall. (For more on Neah Power’s efforts to replace the BA-5590, see “Micro Fuel Cell Demonstrates High Power Output,” PETech Times, April 27, 2005, http://powerelectronics.com/news/fuel-cell-output/index.html.
"Congressman Inslee has shown great leadership in alternative energy in general, and has been a strong supporter of our micro fuel cell technology specifically," said Dave Dorheim, CEO of Neah Power Systems. "His leadership was critical in securing this funding, which we expect will accelerate our development path. He clearly has a vision for changing the energy landscape at all levels, and we hope to contribute to that someday soon."