NASA SBIR 2004 Solicitation


SUBTOPIC TITLE:In-Situ Resource Processing and Refining
PROPOSAL TITLE:Integrated Microchannel Reformer/Hydrogen Purifier for Fuel Cell Power Systems

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Makel Engineering, Inc.
1585 Marauder Street
Chico ,CA 95973 - 9064
(530) 895 - 2771

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Darby   Makel
1585 Marauder Street
Chico, CA  95973 -9064
(530) 895 - 2771

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Makel Engineering, Inc. (MEI) supported by Lockheed Martin and the Colorado School of Mines (CSM) propose to develop an integrated hydrogen generator and purifier system for conversion of in-situ produced hydrocarbons to fuel-cell-grade hydrogen. With increased space exploration activities, mobility on planetary surfaces becomes a vital resource: without mobility on the surface, exploration activities are limited to landing sites. There are many needs and many solutions to the mobility challenge, depending on the distance and nature of the transportation required. Rovers provide a range of transportation possibilities, from the very small rovers for site recognition to the large rovers for crew transportation during extra vehicular activities (EVA). While very small rovers may be powered by photovoltaic cells, fuel-cell based power systems may be the alternative to power mid-size to large rovers. Due to the various penalties of storing gaseous hydrogen on-board the rover, it is advantageous to carry methane instead of hydrogen and to have an on-board reformer to produce hydrogen on-demand for the fuel cell. Proton exchange membranes (PEM) are currently the choice on many fuel-cell based power systems. While other fuel cell technologies are being developed, proton exchange membranes (PEM) are currently the choice on many fuel-cell based power systems. The proposed system combines microchannel microreformer technology for hydrogen production with palladium membrane technology for hydrogen purification and separation in an integrated hydrogen production system, resulting in optimized size and energy efficiency.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The technology developed for the proposed Reformer System will serve in multiple future exploration missions. The application is of direct use for any applications where mobile power is required, such as rovers and crew transport vehicles. For instance, in the earlier precursor robotic missions, robotic rovers may be needed for automated ISRU plants, to transport materials being processed, etc. In the later manned missions, the crew transportation vehicles may be use to aid extra-vehicular activities.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Advanced high-density hydrogen storage and generation systems have far reaching commercial importance. Integration of such systems with fuel cells offer the promise of generating electricity and heat while offering several benefits relative to conventional generators including reduced noise, reduced emissions, high energy efficiency, and reduced maintenance. As a widespread hydrogen fuel distribution infrastructure does not meaningfully exist, the challenges posed by high-density hydrogen storage create commercial opportunities for innovative product solutions. Thus, a fuel processor with the capability to reliably generate high-purity hydrogen remains a necessary enabling component to realize practical commercial fuel cell systems.

Form Printed on 08-01-05 13:52