NASA SBIR 2007 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 07-1 X8.01-9374
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Fuel Cells for Surface Systems
PROPOSAL TITLE: Advanced Approaches to Greatly Reduce Hydrogen Gas Crossover Losses in PEM Electrolyzers Operating at High Pressures and Low Current Densities

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
ElectroChem, Inc.
400 West Cummings Park
Woburn, MA 01801 - 6519
(781) 938-5300

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Michael Pien
400 West Cummings Park
Woburn, MA 01801 - 6519
(781) 938-5300

Expected Technology Readiness Level (TRL) upon completion of contract:

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
ElectroChem proposes technology advances in its unique PEM IFF water electrolyzer design to meet the NASA requirement for an electrolyzer that will operate very efficiently both at low current densities and at high pressures. This SBIR effort will develop technical solutions to the draw-back of high pressure operation, namely hydrogen gas crossover losses, that is, an increased diffusion of hydrogen across the membrane which effectively decreases the efficiency.

Two approaches to reducing gas permeation through the membrane at high pressure will be investigated: 1) The use of palladium thin films embedded in the membrane; and 2) The use of Nafion proton conductive polymer-clay nanocomposite blends. Two different bonding approaches and membrane configurations will be used for the first approach. Determining the best composition is the key for the second approach.

Promising candidates will be determined by two tests: 1) hydrogen permeability tests; and 2) proton conduction measurements to assure that the effects of reducing hydrogen permeability will not affect electrochemical proton conduction.

Finally, the most promising candidates will undergo their final Ph I proof of concept tests in a PEM IFF electrochemical cell.

Phase I will lead to the Ph II development of a complete PEM IFF Electrolyzer System and delivery of a demonstration unit to NASA.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The RFC has long been the leading energy storage candidate for supplying stationary power for the fourteen day/night cycle on the Moon. Of the two major subsystems in the RFC, water electrolyzers are at a lower technology readiness level (TRLs) than primary fuel cells. ElectroChem's proposed technology advance in its unique PEM IFF Water Electrolyzer design will meet the NASA requirement for an electrolyzer that will operate very efficiently both at low current densities and at high pressures. This will result in reduced system weight and volume. In addition, incorporating ElectroChem's advanced water electrolyzer in its unique IFF design will produce a more stable and passive RFC for providing power for Exploration missions at remote locations.

The characteristics of the proposed RFC, containing its advanced PEM Water Electrolyzer design, are ideal for providing UPS backup power for NASA applications, either in space or on earth, and for providing portable power for landers and rovers.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
For terrestrial applications ElectroChem's PEM IFF Water Electrolyzer is ideal for future auto refueling stations. Also, IFF PEM RFCs, containing the advanced water electrolyzer design, will be strong candidates for supplying power to remote sites with solar and/or off-peak utility power as sources of electrolyzer input power.

Because of difficult maintenance problems, ElectroChem's highly reliable, stable, long life IFF PEM RFC will be an excellent replacement for the lead acid batteries used in Navy Bases. In the Transportation area, advanced RFC systems are being considered for a wide range of vehicles.

For the UPS industry, ElectroChem's advanced RFC has many very unique characteristics that are very attractive to hospitals, telecommunications, and other business activities where down time is critical. Unlike battery power storage systems, the RFC's power and cycle duration are independent, which provides the designer much more freedom in meeting the specific needs of the UPS application, including siting.

NASA's technology taxonomy has been developed by the SBIR-STTR program to disseminate awareness of proposed and awarded R/R&D in the agency. It is a listing of over 100 technologies, sorted into broad categories, of interest to NASA.

Energy Storage
Renewable Energy

Form Generated on 09-18-07 17:50