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$100,000 | USA | Stage 1
THE OPPORTUNITY: Expand access to a portable, clean, low-cost energy source for use in developing countries and emergency and disaster relief efforts.
THE PROJECT: With support from DIV and an additional leveraged amount of over $8.5 million, SiGNa Chemistry has developed a power system with a clean and safe energy storage solution tailored to developing country contexts. SiGNa's portable fuel cell is powered by sodium silicide, a powder that instantly produces hydrogen when it comes into contact with water with no hazardous byproducts. Because the only emissions are water vapor and air, such bicycles would not emit the greenhouse gases and pollutants produced by the inefficient engines of other two- and three-wheelers frequently found in cities around the world.
THE RESULTS: The energy storage of the 300 W fuel-cell power system operates at one-sixth the cost, weight, and volume of existing battery technologies. The unit can be carried by hand, can be used indoors, and has a range of potential applications: one canister can power a standard cell phone for 2000 hours with a corresponding fuel cost of $0.0018 per hour, a laptop for 50 hours ($0.07 per hour), an LED light bulb equivalent to a 40W incandescent for 178 hours ($0.0197 per hour) a vaccine refrigerator for 40 hours ($0.0875 per hour), a small UV water filtration system for 133 hours ($0.0036 per gallon of filtered water), or a small mobile work center using 3 computers, 2 light bulbs, 3 phones, a vaccine refrigerator, and a water filtration system for 6 hours ($0.599 per hour). The technology can also be used to efficiently power retrofit bicycles at a cost of $0.045 per mile of bike travel without peddling, thus allowing riders to travel three times further than with an existing battery of a similar size.
The total cost for 3000 Watt-hours of energy from the SiGNa battery is $688, which represents a cost effectiveness gain over existing technologies: gasoline generators cost $1,304 per 3000 W-hrs, disposable batteries cost $41,786 per 3000 W-hrs, and rechargeable lithium batteries cost $2,940 per 3000 W-hrs.
Last updated: February 19, 2013