At a US Army Lab, ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md., a closed loop fuel cell has been created that is able to generate 220 Kilowatts of power in three minutes, using one kilo of a nano-galvanic aluminium powder they formulated, a metric that doubles if you include the amount of heat it produces. Just 5 Kilo’s of this material gives you a Megawatt of power at your disposal in something the size of six 1 liter milk cartons. Off course you still need to add the weight of the fuel cell (which can be as little as a kilo) and water (a single liter or less as it is a closed loop system), with which it must be mixed. Have liquid containing water & powder? Become superhero.
The US military would use this to power exoskeletons and battery hungry equipment for soldiers on long patrols, or power combat lasers. Civilian applications include manned multi-rotor-helicopters, exoskeletons for paraplegics and other power hungry applications requiring a small form factor. If we could get our hands on it at ONESTAGETOSPACE, we could use it for all sorts of off world (emergency) power applications, power space suits for full day use and to keep our well insulated vehicle warm during the cold lunar or martian nights.
But why take it from me? More information about the chemical reaction can be found in this US Army Website article from July 25, 2017 and in the video below:
A NASA Space Suit used on extravehicular activities (the so called EMU’s used on the ISS), uses batteries that provide 20.5 V and 45 Ah Capacity (giving a max of 820Wh total power available) or about 102.5 Watts of power for a typical EVA of 8 hours. The fuel cell above has 11.000 Wh available per kilo of powder and the army claims it converts the powder with 100% efficiency; 13 times as much electric energy + the same amount of heat. 4 Days worth of power per kilo of powder could finally bring some piece of mind to a floating astronaut. That is, if he forgets he is falling.
On Mars this would mean an almost unlimited supply of oxygen for the first Martian Space Suit because, besides using compact re-breather technology used in marine diving equipment, it would have all the power required to pump, compress and convert the CO2 atmosphere into breathable oxygen, compensating for the inevitable leaks. The weight of the suit could also be supported by a powered exoskeleton and it would have an easy refueling system to boot. Just add a canister of powder with imported or locally produced nano-galv-alu-powder.
Does this also mean we could strap an electric turbine to a man and make him fly?
Check out this short video: The Real Life Iron Man Jetpack that Actually Flies. Understand that every kilo of kerosene is 45MJ/Kg, which theoretically gives 12.5Kwh/kg of kerosene while the powder has 11 Kwh/kg of powder but is much more efficient in converting it to actual thrust.
Or, check out Yves Rossy, the original Swiss Jet Man and his flock of birds flying “through” the Dubai skyline. In his case too the fuel cell would be much more efficient and enable longer flights.
Jetman Dubai : Young Feathers 4K
We are definitely living in the future.
Not quite ready to fly to the office? Tell us what you think about this technology.
The Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) suit currently has a silver-zinc battery that is 20.5 V and 45 Ah capacity. The EMU’s portable life support system (PLSS) will draw power from the battery during the entire period of an EVA. Due to the disadvantages of using the silver-zinc battery in terms of cost and performance, a new high energy density battery is being developed for future use, The new battery (Lithium-ion battery or LIB) will consist of Li-ion polymer cells that will provide power to the EMU suit. The battery design consists of five 8 Ah cells in parallel to form a single module of 40 Ah and five such modules will be placed in series to give a 20.5 V, 40 Ah battery. Charging will be accomplished on the Shuttle or Station using the new LIB charger or the existing ALPS (Air Lock Power Supply) charger. The LIB delivers a maximum of 3.8 A on the average, for seven continuous hours, at voltages ranging from 20.5 V to 16.0 V and it should be capable of supporting transient pulses during start up and once every hour to support PLSS fan and pump operation. Figure 1 shows the placement of the battery in the backpack area of the EMU suit. The battery and cells will undergo testing under different conditions to understand its performance and safety characteristics
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