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Semiconductors and Components

Fuel Cell Pioneer Samples USB 3.0 Charger

01 January 2014

Lilliputian Systems Inc., a developer of butane-based portable power system for mobile equipment has upgraded its Nectar product to version 3.0, providing it with a USB 3.0 compatible interface. The company, which is backed by Intel and Russia's Rusnano sovereign investment fund, has said it is now sampling the fuel system and will be demonstrating it at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Lilliputian (Wilmington, Mass.) points out that both the Nectar Mobile Power System and Nectar Pods butane cartridges have been approved for carry-on and use aboard regular commercial aircraft, by the UN International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and U.S. Department of Transportation.

Lilliputian was founded as a spin off from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2001. Its technology is based on a solid-oxide fuel cell that converts hydrogen and oxygen into water and electricity. The hydrogen is provided in the form of butane and the oxygen comes from air pumped into the Nectar unit.

Of particular note is that the reactions take place within thousands of miniature channels within multiple stacked MEMS devices. Indeed Lilliputian supporter Intel offered to make the critical MEMS components as part of its investment deal in 2010. The MEMS were to be made at Intel's 200mm wafer fab in Hudson, Mass., a facility it is now closing down by the end of 2014 with the loss of 700 jobs.

The Nectar unit has a volume of about 150cc and weight of 200g. The pods have a volume of 55cc and weigh about 35g. The unit produces 55watt-hours of energy per pod, roughly equivalent to 10 smartphone recharges or one laptop recharge and deliver at a rate of about 2.5W.

"Our original Nectar USB 2.0 system was an absolute game changer for today's smartphones and other portable electronics. With the introduction of the higher-power Nectar USB 3.0 system, users can take advantage of even faster charging speeds in smartphones and tablets, both today and well into the future," said Lilliputian CEO Sohail Khan, in a statement.

In September 2012 Lilliputian announced it had closed $40 million of a planned $60 million equity financing round led by the Russian $10 billion investment fund Rusnano, headquartered in Moscow. The deal brought the amount invested in Lilliputian up to about $80 million and Rusnano joined Intel, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Altira Group, Stata Venture Partners, Atlas Venture, and Fairhaven Capital as an investor in the company.

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