In April 2006, ABSL Power Solutions, teamed with QinetiQ, successfully won a competitive tender for the development of advanced power sources for future land forces. Designated the Portable Power Solutions (PPS) Programme, the three-year, £5m, MOD-funded programme aims to mature rechargeable power sources characterised by significantly increased specific energies and energy densities over current lithium ion batteries, resulting in reduced load carriage for the warfighter and increased capability.
The PPS programme is divided into three strands, designated A1, A2 and B. Strand A1 aims to deliver a 7.2 W average, 30 W peak power source capable of powering a 48 hr mission with a weight approaching 1 kg and a volume approaching 1 litre, suitable for the individual warfighter in a FIST or Land Warrior role. Strand A2 aims to deliver a 100 W average, 150 W peak power unit for a 12 hr mission with a 3.6 kg target weight and 3.6 litre volume, suitable as a man-portable power unit to replace existing lithium ion power sources in a variety of roles. Strands A1 and A2 require maturation to TRL 7, and field trial proof scheduled for February 2009. Strand B aims to produce a TRL 3 demonstrator at around half the weight and volume of the Strand A1 unit. All three strands represent a considerable stretch over currently available technology, most particularly over batteries, and represent attractive new market opportunities for ABSL exploitable in military and commercial fields.
A presentation describing the PPS programme status to June 2007 was delivered at the Soldier Technology 2007 conference. The PowerPoint presentation is available for download in our technical centre. The programme is divided into three phases: an initial review and thorough lab-based evaluation of available technologies, following a request for information to leading companies and institutions, resulting in over 90 candidate technologies and leading to the selection of single candidates taken forward for each strand; maturation of each candidate technology to deliver solutions as close to the target metrics as possible; and finally field trials (for strands A1 and A2) and a laboratory demonstration for strand B.
From the evaluation phase, a reformed methanol solution feeding a high temperature polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cell solution originating from UltraCell Corp, Livermore, CA, emerged as the candidate to go forward in strand A1; an ammonia borane fuelled PEM solution from QinetiQ and Jadoo Power, Folsom, CA, emerged for strand A2; and a rechargeable lithium air semi fuel cell emerged as most appropriate choice for strand B. In all cases, the selection was made following a vigorous evaluation of existing hardware and concepts, and established competence to further develop the core technologies to meet the more exacting requirements of the PPS programme over the current state of the art. In all three strands, the selection of a fuel cell solution was necessitated mainly by the need for power density, originating from the fuel, rather than any bias towards a particular outcome.
At the present time (April 2008), design iterations and breadboards for the three strands are moving towards the delivery of prototype units for in-house evaluation in May 2008, and ultimate delivery of field trial units for internal qualification (and for strand B, a demonstrator) towards the end of 2008.
Within strand A1 of the PPS Programme, UltraCell and ABSL are co-developing a 7.2 W average, 30 W peak power source with significant advantages over competing fuel cells and batteries. By modifying the firmware, the PPS15 can also be configured as a 15 W average power source suitable for Land Warrior and other high power needs. UltraCell is providing the engine core (reformer and stack), with ABSL providing firmware input, military-specific ruggedization, design for manufacturing and other functionality outside the core. Slated for trials in February 2009, the PPS15 is expected to offer a significant weight decrease over batteries and the XX25 for mission times of 24 hours or more, waterproofing to IP67, immediate power output on switch on and ability to start up at -20°C.
In April 2006, ABSL Power Solutions, teamed with defence contractor QinetiQ, successfully won a competitive tender for the development of advanced power sources for future land forces. Denoted the Portable Power Solutions (PPS) Programme, the 3-year, £5m, MOD-funded programme sought and then matured rechargeable power sources with significantly increased specific energies and energy densities over current lithium ion batteries, resulting in reduced load carriage for the warfighter and increased capability.
The PPS programme began with a review and lab evaluation of over 90 candidate technologies in response to an RFQ, and then down-selection and subsequent maturation to three power sources: a hybrid methanol-based fuel cell system rated between 7-15 W power output in partnership with UltraCell, a pure fuel cell system from Jadoo rated at 100 W power output, and a Li-Air battery. A presentation describing the PPS programme status to June 2007 was delivered at the Soldier Technology 2007 conference.