NASA has identified a need for energy storage solutions with high energy density and reliability for lunar surface operations. Regenerative fuel cell (RFC) systems are a promising candidate for conditions requiring long duration discharge, such as a 354-hour lunar night. Giner proposes to modify their established non-flow-through-fuel-cell (NFTFC) design to reduce mass in a regenerative fuel cell (RFC) system. Giner will accomplish this by combining the cooling and water removal chambers, which will reduce the mass of the internal NFTFC components by 25%. The Phase I NFTFC optimization shall be performed on Giner’s 50 cm2 active area hardware, which can modified for high pressure and lightweight relatively easily. Giner will also assemble and test a proof-of-concept shared endplate stack containing an NFTFC and an electrolyzer, a modification that will further reduce mass in an RFC system. During the Phase II, Giner will design and assemble a full scale shared endplate stack containing an NFTFC and electrolyzer with light-weight endplates rated to 2000 psig. Giner projects an NFTFC energy efficiency of approximately 1000 W/kg by the end of the Phase II effort.
Within NASA there are almost innumerable needs for high energy density storage. This includes lunar and Martian missions and outposts, as well as extraterrestrial vehicles and the high altitude aircraft. Improvements to NFTFC energy density and reliability will make Giner’s RFC systems more attractive candidates for each of these applications.
Giner has provided RFC systems or discrete NFTFC and ELX stacks to several commercial aerospace companies primarily interested telecom, environmental sampling and border patrol applications. Giner perceives this to be a $50M+ market opportunity by 2025.