NASA SBIR 2010 Solicitation
FORM B - PROPOSAL SUMMARY
||Fuel Cells and Electrolyzers for Space Applications
||A Direct Methane Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (DMSOFC)
SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
7610 Eastmark Drive
College Station, TX 77840 - 4023
PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Sr. Research Scientist
College Station, TX 77840 - 4023
Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Producing return fuel on Mars rather than carrying it from Earth significantly reduces the mass that must be lifted from Earth for a manned mission to Mars. The most practical propulsion combination that can be produced is methane and oxygen. Using propellant components made on Mars to generate electric power on the return voyage further reduces the mass that must be lifted.
We are proposing to develop an energy conversion system to utilize the components of this propulsion combination to generate electricity for that voyage. The core of the system will be a direct methane oxygen solid oxide fuel cell (DMSOFC). To enhance conversion efficiency we will use the waste heat from the fuel cell stack to produce additional electricity before it is radi-ated away. (The combined efficiency of all stages of this system will exceed 70%.)
Phase I will select an anode electrocatalyst, demonstrate a single cell fuel cell, select a heat re-covery system, and develop a design for the complete system, which will be built in Phase II.
POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The direct application of this technology is supporting a manned mission to Mars (and poten-tially to other locations where methane can be obtained at later dates). Additional applications include fuel cell power systems for either stationary or flight use. Methane is more easily lique-fied and stored than hydrogen, giving it significant storage and handling advantages. In addition, as noted below as a commercial opportunity, these fuel cells can be operated on natural gas, making them an excellent candidate for use by NASA in distributed generation systems and for electric power at remote locations.
POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
A methane-oxygen fuel cell can easily be operated as a methane-air fuel cell, with only a modest reduction in power output. With methane being the primary constituent of natural gas it is clear that a fuel cell that can use this readily available fuel directly will have significant advantages over one that requires reforming the methane before supplying it to the fuel cell. A direct system will be simpler (no reformer), and more efficient. The ability to use natural gas opens up the wide world of distributed generation systems, currently a growing part of the smart grid, and presents a potentially very large commercial market.
Fueled with compressed natural gas, these fuel cells are also suitable as electrical power supplies for operation in remote locations.
TECHNOLOGY TAXONOMY MAPPING (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.)
Sources (Renewable, Nonrenewable)
Spacecraft Design, Construction, Testing, & Performance (see also Engineering; Testing & Evaluation)
Form Generated on 09-03-10 12:12