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Industry News

Czech Military Tries a Fuel Cell in the Foxholes

LCG, Aug. 23, 2000--The Czech Ministry of National Defense has purchased a portable fuel cell for its army to try out in the field, according to Astris Energi Inc. whose subsidiary Astris S.R.O. of Benesov in the Czech Republic made the device.

Jiri K. Nor, Astris president, said the fuel cell was a self-contained system based on the companys alkaline fuel cell techniques. "It demonstrates the feasibility and practicality of small portable fuel cell systems, and also confirms the capability of Astris to fully engineer and produce fuel cell systems for use in the field," he said.

According to a company statement, the generator is fueled by gaseous hydrogen with air as the oxidizer. An integral hydrogen fuel tank with a capacity of 5.1 liters compressed to 3,000 pounds per square inch, provides 1.5 kilowatt-hours of electrical output. Refueling from a compressed hydrogen supply is done using a quick disconnect pressure port.

In the military, "in the field" means places where shot and shell fill the air and where the weather might not always be clement. Nor said the alkaline fuel cell had the advantage or being able to start andwork even in conditions of deep freeze, at temperatures down to minus 40 degrees centigrade. He claimed polymer membrane cells are either unable to function at such low temperatures or are irreversibly damaged.

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