Thursday, February 01, 2007

Micropumps for fuel cells

A world away from the launch of Vista is a new micropump developed by ALPS Electric. Why is this important? Because these are vital for the next generation of fuel cells that will power laptops, digital cameras, even mobile phones and embedded equipment.
These are often based on methanol and need machines that circulate or control the fuel in the cell. And size here is vital for an embedded power source, hence the need for micropumps.
But designing pumps at this scale is hard – it needs structural design technologies such as fluid, structure and magnetic field analysis simulation as well as control technology. It uses a low-voltage electromagnetic drive system, which helps the control system.
The micropump is 6.0mm in diameter and 24.0mm in length, the microvalve measures 3.5mm in diameter and 10.3mm in length (excluding the nozzle).

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