NASA STTR 2004 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 04 T3.01-9865
RESEARCH SUBTOPIC TITLE: Aeropropulsion and Power
PROPOSAL TITLE: Coatings for Fuel Cell Propulsion Compressor Bearings
NAME:Mohawk Innovative Technology, Inc. NAME:Argonne National Laboratory
ADDRESS:1037 Watervliet-Shaker Road ADDRESS:9700 South Cass Ave,
CITY:Albany CITY:Agronne
STATE/ZIP:NY12205-2033 STATE/ZIP:IL60439-4838
PHONE:(518)862-4290 PHONE:(630)252-4930

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Said Jahanmir

Fuel cell air handling systems require clean and contaminant-free inlet air, which dictates that oil-free, motorized, compressor/expander systems should be used. Although there is no sliding contact in the steady state operation of the foil bearing, occasional contact between the foil and journal surfaces at startup and shutdown and during overload situations, could limit the bearing life. Therefore, to ensure that the compressor system is highly efficient and reliable the foil air bearings need wear resistant, low friction coatings.

The objective of the proposed STTR investigation is to identify new coatings for use in fuel cell propulsion compressor bearings that would allow the foil bearing to be functional from low temperature start-up conditions to the maximum temperatures encountered during operation. The proposed program will build on a novel hydrogenated diamond like carbon (DLC) coating developed at the Argonne National Laboratory (ANL). The goal of this joint MiTiREG and ANL STTR Phase I program is to demonstrate the feasibility of ANL hydrogenated DLC and MiTiREG KorolonTM coating technology for fuel cell propulsion compressor bearings. This will be accomplished through coating adhesion and tribological testing of the coatings against various potential shaft coatings such as the NASA developed PS304 and/or Korolon 1350B.

A direct application for the proposed foil bearing coating system is NASA's Propulsion and Power Project that focuses on ensuring the long-term environmental compatibility and efficiency of aircraft propulsion and power systems. This NASA Program seeks to demonstrate key component technologies to enable electric and hybrid propulsion and power systems. An oil-free compressor system is an enabling technology for the fuel cell system. Potential NASA applications include foil bearings for the Aerovironment/NASA solar powered Helios and other oil-free foil bearings for other high altitude UAVs or auxiliary power unites used for long duration observation.

There are significant opportunities in the automotive transportation sector and industrial compressor and blower markets for oil-free compressors. For example, Samsung is now buying foil bearings from MiTiREG for their TurboMaster Micro Compressors in lot sizes from 50 to 150 sets. Growth to over 300 sets per year are anticipated. We have also recently been approached by a blower and compressor manufacturer requesting a proposal to support their development of a family of oil free compressors and blowers in the 10-15 HP range. Projected volumes for these applications are in the tens of thousands per year. In addition, a substantial number of proposals are outstanding for development of commercial products using MiTiREG foil bearings. Included in this list is a proposal to develop the air handling system for aerospace fuel cells, a proposal to supply foil bearings for automotive fuel cell compressors for both domestic and international fuel cell manufacturers.