During the Eurosatory 2012 international defense show and exhibition, General Bertrand Ract-Madoux, French army Chief of Staff, awarded the 39th IGA (Ingénieur Général de l’Armement) Chanson prize to teams from Sagem (Safran group), the CEA’s Liten lab and the company Bic, for their work on a fuel cell for the FELIN program (1), under a basic research contract from French defense procurement agency DGA.
Developed by the three partners, this portable energy source will replace FELIN’s lithium-ion batteries, reducing the weight carried by infantry soldiers. The fuel cell technology they developed supplies specific energy density of about 300 Wh/kg, a three-fold increase over current batteries.
The Liten lab, part of French atomic energy commission CEA, contributes its expertise in fuel cells, while Bic offers its know-how in miniaturized energy storage devices for the consumer market.
As prime contractor for the FELIN program, Sagem is the designer of its energy system, and for this project it is responsible for the fuel cell electronic control and management circuit.
The technological breakthrough by the three partners will help meet the energy challenge faced by today’s infantry units, which now make widespread use of electronic devices. The FELIN system for infantry soldiers already contributes to this goal because of its architecture based on a sole energy source and optimized energy management, which facilitates the integration of this new fuel cell.
The fuel cell is based on PEM (Proton Exchange Membrane) technology. It uses gaseous hydrogen as a fuel, produced from sodium borohydride and water in a disposable cartridge, producing 120 Wh for a weight of 300 grams. Once used it can quickly be replaced, with a buffer battery providing electricity during the transition.
Sodium borohydride is a moderately priced substance that offers significant advantages over the methanol used today, in terms of handling, safety and environmental protection. Furthermore, the fuel cell becomes more advantageous the longer it has to be used autonomously, because soldiers only need to carry extra cartridges. Several prototypes have already been successfully tested, including in field trials, and deliver average power of 12 watts, compatible with the FELIN system’s needs.
Furthermore, this new technology could also meet requirements for portable optronics, radios, mini-robots, drones and remote sensors, and help spur the emergence of a new industry based on a dual-use (civil-military) technology.
1 - FELIN is an integrated equipment suite for the French soldier modernization program, which provides for the delivery of 22,600 systems to the French army. It has been in service with the army since September 2010, and was deployed in Afghanistan starting in December 2011.
Sagem, a high-tech company in the Safran group, holds world or European leadership positions in optronics, avionics, electronics and safety-critical software for both civil and military markets. Sagem is the No. 1 company in Europe and No. 3 worldwide for inertial navigation systems (INS) used in air, land and naval applications. It is also the world leader in helicopter flight controls and the European leader in optronics and tactical UAV systems. Operating across the globe through the Safran group, Sagem and its subsidiaries employ 7,500 people in Europe, Southeast Asia and North America. Sagem is the commercial name of the company Sagem Défense Sécurité.
About CEA Liten
Part of the French atomic energy commission CEA’s technology research directorate, with main facilities in Grenoble and Chambéry, Liten (Laboratoire d’Innovation pour les Technologies des Energies Nouvelles) is one of Europe’s leading research centers for new energy technologies. Liten’s assigned mission is to support France’s efforts to diversify its energy sources by better integrating renewable energies, especially for transportation and housing, and help boost industry’s competitiveness. A major partner to industry, Liten conducts some 400 joint research contracts annually. It is also one of the CEA’s laboratories that files for the largest number of patents (150 in 2010); it currently manages an international portfolio of 600 patents. Liten’s activities focus on renewable energies (solar, biomass), energy efficiency (low-consumption vehicles and buildings, hydrogen technologies, electrical network management), nomadic energy and high-performance materials.
A world leader in stationery articles, lighters, disposable razors and promotional products, Bic (bicworld.com) has manufactured high quality products for over 60 years, available to consumers all over the world. Today, Bic is one of the most widely recognized brand names in the world. The company markets its products in over 160 countries, and posted revenues of 1.8 billion euros in 2011. Listed on Euronext Paris, the Bic share is part of the SBF120 and CAC MID 60 stock market indices. Bic is also part of the following SRI (Socially Responsible Investment) indices: FTSE4Good Europe, ASPI Eurozone and Ethibel Excellence Europe.
Contact presse Bic: Claire Doligez
E: cdoligez[.]image7.fr - T: +33 1 53 70 74 48