NASA SBIR 2008 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 08-1 X6.01-9838
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Fuel Cells for Surface Systems
PROPOSAL TITLE: Innovative Fuel Cell Health Monitoring IC

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Ridgetop Group, Inc.
6595 North Oracle Road
Tucson, AZ 85704 - 5645
(520) 742-3300

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Milena Thompson
6595 North Oracle Road
Tucson, AZ 85704 - 5645
(520) 742-3300

Expected Technology Readiness Level (TRL) upon completion of contract: 3

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Energy storage devices, including fuel cells, are needed to enable future robotic and human exploration missions. Historically, the reliability of the fuel cells has been problematic, including the scrubbed launch of the Atlantis Space Shuttle in September, 2006, and Endeavor in August, 1995. A 2007 Department of Energy report indicated that, "Component degradation and failure mechanisms are not well understood, which makes mitigation strategies necessary."
A key method of monitoring the performance and mitigating voltage problems is to precisely monitor the voltage from the individual cells. This can be facilitated through the development of a novel Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC). Ridgetop Group, Inc. proposes to develop this ASIC for NASA's Fuel Cell voltage monitoring, with the added features of being radiation-tolerant, and including in-situ component degradation functions, which support IVHM initiatives within NASA.
In addition, Ridgetop will design the ASIC to add tolerance to space radiation effects, and prognostics-enable the ASIC to provide advance notice of impending failures using in-situ test structures from Ridgetop's Sentinel SiliconTM library. There is currently no ASIC that is capable of providing the foregoing capabilities, so it will be unique and very useful to NASA.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The NASA programs that utilize fuel cells for power sources are ideal applications for the IC developed from this SBIR. In addition to precisely monitoring the cell voltages, the IC also supports its use in larger integrated vehicle health management (IVHM) applications, and is radiation-tolerant for space-based usage.
Among the specific usage areas:
> NASA/Ames Research Center Advanced Diagnostics and Prognostics Test Bed (ADAPT): This center provides best practices for the adoption of prognostics and IVHM.
> NASA Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV)
> NASA Constellation Altair Lunar Lander

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Precise voltage monitoring of fuel cells provides much-needed observability to internal module state of health. The ability to link the measurements to an integrated vehicle health management system (IVHM) also transcends NASA and commercial applications, such as for cars and forklifts. Fuel cell-powered vehicles are currently in development and prototypes are being fielded for testing.
In the commercial sector, other applications available for fuel cells include backup power for hospitals and critical infrastructure applications, telecom, and even cellular phones.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is also very interested in fuel cell development as a means of reducing our dependence on imported oil, and has expressed interest in Ridgetop's development in this area.

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.

On-Board Computing and Data Management
Radiation-Hard/Resistant Electronics

Form Generated on 11-24-08 11:56