Livermore, Calif.-based fuel cell maker UltraCell Corp. announced last week it has raised $3.8 million in venture funding, bringing the total amount it has raised since it was founded to $30 million. The company has also received $12 million in government grants, says CEO Keith Scott.
Investors in the latest round include BASF Venture Capital GmbH, Espirito Santo Ventures, OnPoint Technologies and Miami Valley Venture Fund.
The company makes portable fuel cells for use by the military in laptops and radios.
The most recent product from UltraCell comes in the size of a hardcover book and weighs 2.7 pounds and runs quietly, according to Scott. The size and portability of the fuel cells is ideal for a soldier to carry with other equipment and can provide long stints of energy.
UltraCell’s fuel cells are not commercially available, but the company is using the recent funding to bump up operations at its Dalton, Ohio-based manufacturing plant, which will have the capacity to churn out several thousand fuel cells per month.
Scott says that the company will probably raise one more round of funding.
Keith Gillard, a principal at BASF and a member of the UltraCell board, says that one of the features that differentiates its product from the competition is that UltraCell’s battery is not flammable, and will not burst into flames on a soldier’s pack if hit by a bullet.
Besides the military, UltraCell is considering other markets for its light-weight fuel cells, such as emergency responders. There is also a market for surveillance camera operators, says Gillard. The military is a great start but it is “low-hanging fruit…and limited,” he says.