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SymPowerco’s Flowing Electrolyte DMFC replaces a proton exchange membrane with a flowing electrolyte to reduce methanol crossover. Source: SymPowerco. Click to enlarge.

SymPowerco Corporation, holder of a direct methanol fuel cell technology, has acquired 70% ownership in both Highline Hydrogen Hybrids, Inc. (HHHI) and Hoss Motor Sports, Inc. (HMSI) in an all-stock deal. The closing of the agreement completes the terms of the Letters of Intent previously announced on 11 May 2009 (HMSI) and 30 June 2009 (HHHI).

Hoss Motor Sports Inc. has designed several types of Off Road Utility Vehicles including vehicles designed specifically for Search and Rescue, Construction Sites and for Sport Utility and Off Road Enthusiast markets. Under the SymPowerco umbrella, HMSI will manufacture its advanced vehicles at HMSI’s new facility in Dumas, Arkansas.

Earlier in July (subsequent to the Letter of Intent), Sympowerco and HMSI began discussions for the development of design criteria and specifications for Prototype Hybrid-Electric Powered Test Vehicles. The joint design project will include a needs assessment to determine the suitability of HMSI’s new facility for research and development of prototype electric vehicles to be used as test vehicles for SymPowerco’s Flowing Electrolyte Direct Methanol Fuel Cell (FE DMFC).

HHHI has developed a supplemental hydrogen fuel system for internal combustion engines that reduces emissions, enhances fuel efficiency by as much as 25% and increases horsepower by an average of 10%. HHHI plans to release a version of its supplemental fuel system for use on Over-The-Road commercial vehicles. The HHHI products will also be produced in the company’s new facility in Dumas, Arizona.

Flowing Electrolyte Direct Methanol Fuel Cell. SymPowerco, through its 70%-owned subsidiary Polygenic Power Systems, acquired the rights to the Flowing Electrolyte Direct Methanol Fuel Cell. Polygenic was formed in 2007 by Ethanoil and Gas Corp. in partnership with Hybrid Energy Technologies Inc. (HET).

In a Proton Exchange Membrane Direct Methanol Fuel Cell (PEM DMFC), a weak solution of methanol is fed to the carbon and platinum anode of a fuel cell, where the methanol dissociates into H+, CO2 and electrons. The CO2 is vented off and the fuel cell is left with H+ and electrons, similar to the process in hydrogen PEM fuel cells.

While PEM DMFCs offer the conceptual advantage use of a commonly available fuel, simple construction, good power output and lower cost, there are a number of operational problems. In addition to the moisture and control problems of PEM fuel cells, PEM DMFCs also suffer from methanol crossover. The membrane in a PEM DMFC allows methane to cross over from the anode to the cathode side, degrading efficiency by as much as 30%.

In the Flowing Electrolyte DMFC, the PEM is replaced by a flowing electrolyte: sulfuric acid. While a PEM is also required in the FE DMFC, it can be a less expensive PEM with much lower resistance. This cheaper PEM allows some crossover of methanol but the flowing electrolyte removes the methanol, thus increasing fuel cell efficiency by about 30%, according to the company.

SymPowerco has also acquired the exclusive rights to use a new flat-plate rechargeable alkaline battery technology with the FE DMFC for hybrid systems. The flat-plate alkaline battery technology is inexpensive, and more environmentally friendly than NiMH, NiCad and lead-acid batteries. It is also less expensive and safer than lithium-ion batteries.

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