Maximizing miniature power producers - Clean, affordable and highly efficient solid oxide fuel cells on the market in 10 years - that is the goal of a new industry-government-university consortium led by two Department of Energy labs - Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the National Energy Technology Laboratory. Called the Solid-State Energy Conversion Alliance, SECA's aim is to develop a fuel cell that meets the diverse power needs of multiple markets and runs on abundant fossil fuels, such as natural gas, gasoline and military fuels.
Members of SECA believe they can reduce fuel cell costs through mass production of a versatile, five-kilowatt fuel cell module. In the future, the module is envisioned to meet energy needs in a range of markets, including residential, military and transportation. Nearer-term applications include auxiliary power to operate heaters, air conditioners and other accessories in autos and semi trucks, and complex electronics on military equipment. Developers also foresee modules that are "stackable," so units can be combined to accommodate larger power needs.
DOE funding for the consortium is projected to be $350 million over the next 10 years.
Tags target inventory of Army weaponry - Inventory control can be a costly business, even for the U.S. Army. But it's getting easier and faster with a new radio-frequency tag developed at Pacific Northwest. Engineers at the laboratory have designed a system for the U.S. Army's Logistics Integration Agency that tracks an inventory of small arms while stored in armories or checked out and used in the field.
Pacific Northwest engineers designed these RF tags to be securely mounted inside an M-16 rifle's grip and to hold a rifle's serial number for identification. Inventory control personnel use an electronic device called an interrogator to communicate with each tag and read the serial number. The system relies on passive RF reflection to communicate.