30 April 2010

Emergency Fuel Cell Power Supply: Just Add Urine

South Korean battery makers have created the MetalCell, a magnesium battery based on 2,000-year-old technology that can be charged with saltwater or, barring that, urine....MetalCell can sit in the back of a Humvee, in a remote bunker, or in a locker at a forward operating base for years, waiting to power up electrical devices in a pinch. _PopSci
These fuel cells can serve as backup emergency power for electronic devices, should your main power fail in an emergency. Capable of sitting dormant for years, it can be activated with a few quick squirts of urine or salt water. (yet another use for urine)
South Korean developers have adapted 2,000-year-old battery technology for modern warfare.

The device, known as MetalCell, is a backup power source that runs on sodium and can keep a laptop charged for more than four hours, its maker says. The design is relatively simple: a small, ruggedized box with magnesium plates inside. If an electrical gadget — anything from a computer to a flashlight — runs out of energy, a soldier on the battlefield could pour saltwater into the MetalCell and use the device as an emergency power source.

Soldiers in the field have salt in their Meal, Ready-to-Eat packages. Urine could also be used to power the device, says Art Morgan, CEO of the Northern Virginia-based company SEG Inc., which represents the product in the United States.

The sodium reacts with the magnesium to produce low-voltage power.

“You can pack away the device and let it sit for years until you need it,” Morgan says.

...The standard MetalCell model costs about $200 and can be recharged with salt water until the magnesium plates deteriorate. The company is also marketing disposable models that are cheaper — about $120 — and come with salt tablets. _NationalDefense_via_PopSci

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