Power and Mobility (P&M)


by Thomas Westrich


The military has a need to source propulsion systems that have enhanced efficiencies, lower noise signatures, and improved lifetimes over existing power systems. This is true for energy storage systems on unmanned ground vehicles and for manned vehicles (i.e., Auxiliary Power Units). Fuel cells have the promise to achieve all of these goals. However, to be truly effective, these advanced systems should integrate seamlessly with the current supplies of energy storage (batteries) and energy sources (logistics fuel). The largest fuel cell development hurdle to date has been the ability to handle sulfur concentrations present in logistics fuel. Secondly, the reformer must be capable of several thousands of hours of operation utilizing logistics fuels without loss of performance due to sulfur or carbon deposition. Advancements in several key technologies have the potential to allow development of a logistics fueled solid oxide fuel cell with similar size, weight, and power Advancements in the areas of liquid sulfur-removal, sulfur trap regeneration systems, and reformate purification may all contribute to the development of a logistics-fueled 250W solid oxide fuel cell system. This paper will outline the development of logistics-fueled fuel cell systems for advanced propulsion, specifically focusing on man-transportable robotic systems and the technical barriers and innovations which could allow for the development of deployable solid oxide fuel cell systems.