Costa Mesa, California-based Irvine Sensors is developing a proprietary micro-electromechanical system (MEMS) device that could replace batteries.
Dubbed the Microcombuster, the heart of the system under development is a miniature device that burns lighter fluid or other common combustibles. The combuster is also projected to have significantly greater energy density than Lithium-Ion batteries in a comparable size and form factor.
The company's initial development program is focused on potential military applications and it's work is supported by various US government agencies. With the increasing reliance on portable electronic equipment by modern military forces, battery supply and replacement is a major logistics and economic challenge. In the US government’s fiscal 2003 and 2004, for example, around $425m was spent on batteries for use by US soldiers.
If development milestones are successfully achieved, Irvine Sensors expects to have pre-production prototypes of the Microcombuster suitable for military applications before the end of 2009. But the company also says that it expects to be able to produce a product for commercial applications too.
'Throw-away batteries are a major source of environmental waste and current reusable ones are inefficient. The Microcombuster addresses both of those concerns,' said John Carson, Irvine Sensors’ CEO.