Fuel cells' promise for low power, long run-time devices

Published 18 September 2006

Two New Jersey companies demonstrate a fuel cell-powered wireless camera prototype system with infrared sensing and audio capability; the device is ideal for perimeter defense, border monitoring, batlefield observation, and more

Eatontown, New Jersey-based Millennium Cell (NASDAQ: MCEL), a reputable developer of hydrogen battery technology, and Gecko Energy Technologies, an affiliate of the company, have developed a fuel cell-powered wireless camera prototype system with infrared sensing and audio capability. A notable event, becasue this is the first integration of Millennium Cell’s Hydrogen on Demand sodium borohydride fuel technology and Gecko’s PowerSkin fuel cell technology into a hydrogen battery. The integrated hydrogen battery shows the potential for fuel cells in low power, long run-time devices. This is good news for homeland security and defense applications in which there is a critical need for longer lasting power sources for wireless sensors and networks, remote surveillance equipment, and portable device recharging applications.

The leaders of the two companies are clear in pointing to the markets they are going after. Adam Briggs, Millennium Cell’s president, said: “There is growing demand for better power sources in many markets including homeland security and defense and we intend to continue our work with Gecko in addressing these needs.” Ronald Kelley, president of Gecko, referring to the fact that the device will be presented today at at the Homeland Defense Conference sponsored by InSitech at the U.S. Army’s Picatinny Arsenal in Morris County, New Jersey (Picatinny is home to the U.S. Army’s Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center, or ARDEC), commented: “This is our first opportunity to exhibit our technology to decision makers in the military and homeland security. Our efforts with Millennium Cell have enabled us to broaden the applications for our technology and expand our potential market reach.”

-read more in this news release

Hydrogen batteries

As is the case with a traditional battery, a hydrogen battery converts chemical energy into electrical energy. There are, however, important differences between the two types of batteries.

Traditional batteries are sealed systems, and the volume of the battery limits the amount of energy the device can supply, an amount which is further limited by the amount of active fuel material the battery contains. Once that fuel is consumed, the battery must either be replaced or recharged.

In a hydrogen battery the amount of energy the device can supply is not limited by the volume of the device. The hydrogen battery has separate power and energy modules, so the hydrogen battery can be refueled and used over and over by replacing the energy module (refueling the system). The energy module itself can be more compact and less expensive than a primary, single-use battery and may be replaced in a fraction of the time it takes to recharge a traditional battery.

-read more at Millenium Web site