UltraCell is to explore ways to improve portable 50W fuel cell power storage technology to provide dense, lightweight military power sources for warfighters for the US Air Force.

A fuel cell generates power through the reaction of a fuel, such as hydrogen, with oxygen from the external air and can operate continuously for as long as the supply of fuel is maintained.

The study aims to increase the amount of electrical energy available to power a range of of communications, sensor, display and weapons-control systems, while reducing the its weight as compared with conventional batteries.

Under a $3m contract, UltraCell will evaluate existing 50W soldier-portable electrical power technology and enhance the ruggedisation, reliability, power density and startup time of portable fuel cells for three-day missions.

The research contract has been awarded by the Air Force Research Laboratory.