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Team DuPont/SFC Smart Fuel Cell M-25 receives a first place winning prize of $1 million from Dr. William S. Rees, Jr., deputy under the Secretary of Defense for Laboratory and Basic Sciences. The award was for the 2008 Directory Defense Research and Engineering’s Wearable Power Prize competition, one that tested endurance of portable power sources for military use. The open-gate award ceremony was held at Del Valle Field aboard the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, Calif., Oct. 4, 2008.

Photo by Cpl. Nicole A. LaVine

$1 million awarded for wearable power source

4 Oct 2008 | Cpl. Nicole A. LaVine

The first, second and third place winners of the 2008 Director of Defense Research and Engineering’s Wearable Power Prize competition were announced in an open-gate award ceremony at Del Valle Field Saturday.

            The following six prize-eligible teams lasted through the initial 92-hour bench test Sept. 28 and earned a place in the final four-hour, nine-station static bench test dubbed the Power Pack Wear Off:

•           DuPont/SFC Smart Fuel Cell M-25

•           AMI

•           Jenny 600S

•           Ultracell Corps

•           Ultralife

•           Rayovac

            After WPP staff met and debated for several hours on the final contestants, checks were written for the three teams with the lightest-weight power systems and presented in an award ceremony hosted by Dr. William S. Rees Jr., the deputy undersecretary of Defense for Laboratories and Basic Sciences.

            The third-place winner of $250,000 was team Jenny 600S. The award was accepted by team leader James Stephens, a Capitol Connections, LLC consultant to the fuel cell, power and defense industries. 

The final weight of the third place winning wearable power system was 135 ounces.

            The second-place prize of $500,000 went to team AMI from Ann Arbor, Mich., and was accepted by team leader Miguel Tovar for their system with the final weight of 133 ounces.

            The first-place prize of $1 million went to team DuPont/SFC Smart Fuel Cell M-25 and was accepted by team leader Dennis Kountz for their 132 ounce system. 

            “To be honest, as of a month ago, we weren’t so sure we were going to make it,” said Kountz.

            Kountz added he believes the materials the team used gave them an advantage over other competitors.

            “I think we’ve got great material that’s been evolving over the years,” he said. “I think the materials really made a difference.”

            The winning prototype was a hybrid between a direct methanol fuel system and lithium ion batteries, said Mark S. Baunchalk, the DuPont global strategic planning manager and a DuPont teammate.

            Brig. Gen. Charles M. Gurganus, the Combat Center commanding general, and Sgt. Maj. Susan M. Bellis, the Combat Center sergeant major, made an appearance at Del Valle Field, along with special guest John J. Young Jr., the undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics.

            It is inventions like the wearable power systems that fall under Young’s department of advising the secretary and deputy secretary of defense on all matters relating to research, development, testing and evaluation of advanced military technology.

            Although DoD owns no rights or patents on the wearable power systems, some of them may be referred to when creating groundbreaking technologies for the modern-age warfighter, said David Edwards, a special assistant to the DUSDLABS.


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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms