NASA 1999 SBIR Phase I


 

PROPOSAL NUMBER 99-1 17.01-7732 (Chron: 991461 )

PROJECT TITLE

Microfabricated Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cell Arrays


TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (LIMIT 200 WORDS)

Systems & Processes Engineering Corporation (SPEC), in collaboration with Dr. Richard Lagow of the University of Texas at Austin plan to develop a polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cell based on microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). Bulk and surface micromachining of silicon will be used to prepare microelectrode array structures that utilize improved catalytic properties of metallic nanoparticles grown directly on multi-walled carbon nanotubes. The new catalyst phase will contain very small dimension metallic particles with

high surface to volume ratio that are uniformly dispersed in a carbon nanotube matrix.

The MEMS platform offers a number of significant advantages over traditional PEM fuel cells including the capacity to greatly reduce the manufacturing cost and weight through batch fabrication, much greater control of deposition and infusion of catalytic and ionomeric layers, efficient electrical and thermal management through the utilization of the mature field of silicon microelectronics, and the capacity to scale the size of the cells for uses

ranging from on-chip power sources for MEMS applications to very large scale wafer-stacked stationary power sources.


POTENTIAL COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS

Within the past decade, a renewed interest in hydrogen as a fuel source has been spurred by a number of factors including increased governmental demand for reduction of harmful environmental pollutants and technological advances in catalysis and proton conducting membranes that enable the production of all solid state fuel cells with conversion efficiencies greater than 50%. Fuel cells make for attractive alternatives with a number of significant advantages over internal combustion engines, except for higher manufacturing costs due to expensive catalyst materials. These include zero environmentally harmful emissions, and noise free operation, mean time between forced outages of 2,400 hours, and operating costs of 25% to 40% lower than conventional energy sources.

Developing new techniques to reduce the cost limiting factors of fuel cells is sure to foster fuel cell introduction as a bona fide energy source into the world economy.


NAME AND ADDRESS OF PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR (Name, Organization Name, Mail Address,

City/State/Zip)

Steve Savoy, Ph.D.

Systems & Processes Engineering Corp.

101 West 6th Street, Suite 200

Austin , TX 78701 - 2932


NAME AND ADDRESS OF OFFEROR (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip)

Systems & Processes Engineering Corp.

101 West 6th Street, Suite 200

Austin , TX 78701 - 2932