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Prepared by the
Institute for the Analysis of Global Security

September 29, 2003
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Focus: Iraq

Minding Its Business
Saudi Arabia, which has demonstrated its willingness to use its vast oil reserves as a foreign policy tool, has not acted to aid U.S. efforts to rebuild Iraq.

Fencing in looters and saboteurs in Iraq
Too many people in and outside of Iraq are hoping to deny Iraq a better future through a campaign of sabotage and plunder of the country's neglected oil facilities. The problem, and possible solutions.


Prospects on Russia’s stance towards OPEC
In September Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler Prince Abdullah made the first visit to Russia by a Saudi head of state in over seven decades. The future of Moscow’s stance towards OPEC is a critical question for the world oil market. Will Russia be willing to cooperate with OPEC and thus further strengthen the power of the cartel to set a price range for oil?

Energy security and liquefied natural gas
Demand for natural gas has increased as have the security vulnerabilities presented by liquefied natural gas terminals and tankers.

Under the Radar

Oil, terrorism and drugs intermingle in Colombia
Seventy U.S. Special Forces soldiers are training Colombians to protect an oil pipeline.

Japan's struggle to secure future oil supply
Energy dependent Japan looks to Iran for oil, causing tension with the U.S.

Chad-Cameroon pipeline project put to test
Will the pipeline, partially financed by the World Bank, improve the lot of Chad and Cameroon or exacerbate existing corruption and strife?

Natural resource curse hits São Tomé
A tiny West African country illustrates a well known problem.

On the technology front

Smart Fuel Cells for RVs
SFC Smart Fuel Cell AG is selling a fuel cell system for use in recreational vehicles (RVs) that weighs less than 5% the weight of a leadacid battery of similar capacity.

Rentech announces progress on Australian coal-to-diesel project
The Latrobe Valley in eastern Victoria, Australia is the leading choice for what could be the first "clean" production of gas and sulfur-free diesel and naphtha in Australia from the processing of coal.

GTI reports significant results from direct methanol fuel cell membrane
A new membrane developed by the Gas Technology Institute for proton exchange membrane fuel cells has substantially improved direct methanol fuel cell system performance.

San Francisco and Honda to partner on fuel cell car program
American Honda announced last week that it will supply two Honda FCX hydrogen powered fuel cell vehicles, the world's first commercially certified fuel cell car, to the City of San Francisco.

Fuel Cell Locomotive for Military and Commercial Railways
An international consortium is developing the world’s largest fuel cell vehicle, a 109 metric-ton, 1 MW locomotive.

Fuel cell power plant installed at NJ Sheraton
A stationary fuel cell will supply 250 kilowatts of electric power as well as heat to the Sheraton Edison Hotel, accounting for about 25 percent of the hotel's electricity and hot water.

Fuel cell scooters for Europe and China
Palcan's fuel cell powered scooter is designed to address the world's need for a low-end mass transport vehicle.

U.S. Air Force to get fuel cell bus
Fuel cell powered thirty-foot hybrid bus to be stationed at the Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii.

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Back Issues

GTI reports significant results from direct methanol fuel cell membrane

Gas Technology Institute (GTI), in a cooperative program with the Army Research Laboratory (ARL), reports that a new membrane developed by GTI for proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells has substantially improved direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC) system performance.

"We've already achieved exceptional results with this new membrane using hydrogen as a fuel source and now we're achieving outstanding performance with methanol," says Bill Liss, GTI's Director, Advanced Energy Systems.

Independent testing by ARL researchers has verified that GTI's non-fluorinated membrane outperformed the standard Nafion® 117-membrane during multiple DMFC tests. ARL tested the GTI and Nafion membranes for electrical conductivity using a standard four-point conductivity test. The results indicated that the GTI membrane produced approximately 10 times greater electrical conductivity than Nafion. Improved conductivity means DMFC power systems using the GTI membrane will have lower current resistance losses (commonly referred to as IR losses), higher cell voltages, and greater power for a given cell volume.

ARL cell testing indicates that the GTI membrane, at a constant voltage, provides between 41 and 89 percent greater current output (depending on operating pressure and temperature) compared to a similar Nafion cell. Traditionally, DMFC power has been limited by a phenomenon referred to as methanol crossover (the diffusion of methanol from the anode to the cathode). Tests by GTI indicate that this new membrane has lower methanol crossover than traditional membranes.

GTI is conducting long-term membrane testing using hydrogen-air, with over 5100 hours accumulated to date in a 60-square centimeters cell and over 3000 hours to date with the membrane in a multi-cell, 360-square centimeters fuel cell stack.

"These interim results are of interest to the several companies that are developing DMFC power devices for commercial and military applications," adds Liss.

Notes Gerry Runte, GTI's Executive Director of Hydrogen and Distributed Energy Systems, "These new membranes should help accelerate the development of small portable power devices, an exciting part of the emerging fuel cell market. In addition to improving on DMFC performance, the GTI membrane technology is likely to be far less costly than what is currently available in the PEM and DMFC fuel cell market place."

Additional testing is planned by both GTI and ARL on these new membranes, including testing of stack configurations with new molded graphite and metallic plates currently being developed by GTI.

Also see:
DOE: Clean Coal-to-Methanol project a success.