NASA SBIR 2007 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 07-2 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: 1

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
ElectroChem proposes a Phase II program to advance its very successful SBIR Phase I technology effort to the point of minimum hydrogen loss through the electrolyzer membrane, while the high proton conductivity necessary for high efficiency water electrolysis is maintained. In Phase I, ElectroChem demonstrated that its concept of adding clay to a Nafion proton conductive membrane would significantly reduce the penetration of hydrogen gas through the membrane.

In Phase II, a comprehensive technology effort (aimed at optimization) will be carried out which uncovers the microscopic changes that occur within the membrane as a result of the clay addition. The objective of this effort is first to correlate the microscopic morphology that occur within the Nafion-clay nanocomposite membranes with the reduction in hydrogen penetration produced by the clay addition. A second objective is to control the microscopic morphology and establish a process to develop the most effective Nafion-clay nanocomposite membranes, leading to advanced MEAs. The final objective is to evaluate the Nafion-clay nanocomposite membranes under high pressure Commercial Electrolyzer conditions.

Successful completion of this effort will enable NASA to meet its requirement for an electrolyzer that will operate very efficiently both at low current densities and at high pressures.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
ElectroChem's Innovative Development of Nafion/Clay nanocomposite membranes, which reduce hydrogen penetration through the membrane, will be incorporated into its unique PEM IFF Water Electrolyzer design. Successful completion of ElectroChem's Phase II technology effort will enable NASA to meet its requirement for a RFC electrolyzer that will operate very efficiently both at low current densities and at high pressures (Lunar surface energy storage application).

Operating the RFC electrolyzer at high-pressure eliminates the need for external gas compression prior to reactant storage, which reduces total system weight and volume. The drawback of high-
pressure operation, however, has been the increased diffusion of hydrogen across the electrolyzer membrane, which effectively decreases the efficiency. ElectroChem's Nafion-clay nanocomposite membranes advance will overcome this drawback.

ElectroChem's Advanced IFF PEM Electrolyzer will also produce a more stable and passive RFC for providing power for missions at remote locations, and for providing UPS backup power for NASA needs.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
For terrestrial applications, ElectroChem's IFF PEM Electrolyzer is ideal for supplying hydrogen fuel for future auto refueling stations. Also, IFF PEM RFCs, containing the advanced 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 reliable, long life IFF PEM RFC will be an excellent replacement for the lead acid batteries used in Navy Overseas 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 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.

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.

High Energy Propellants (Recombinant Energy & Metallic Hydrogen)
Renewable Energy

Form Generated on 10-23-08 13:36