Metallic Power, Carlsbad, Calif., has developed a regenerative zinc/air fuel cell that could replace lead-acid batteries in such diverse applications as utility carts, forklifts, auxiliary power for trucks and recreational vehicles, and telecommunications backup power. The zinc/air fuel cell is 10 times less expensive than a hydrogen fuel cell. It also is recyclable, produces zero emissions, and charges in just five minutes. Lead-acid batteries can take eight hours to charge. Metallic Power recently completed its first successful demonstration of a prototype zinc/air fuel system using a Cushman brand utility cart manufactured by Textron Inc. The zinc/air fuel cell-powered cart achieved the same ground speed as a lead-acid battery-operated cart, refueled in about 10 minutes compared with a lead-acid batteries' eight hours, and was able to cover 25% more distance than when powered with lead-acid batteries. The zinc/air system eventually could be used in automobiles. "With the adoption of Metallic Power fuel cells, electric cars will be able to fill up in five minutes and travel 300 miles at highway speed," says CEO Jeff Colborn. "Fuel costs will be comparable to gas prices, and emissions will be zero."