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Component: NAVY Solicitation: 10.1
Topic Number: N101-081 Proposal Number: N101-081-0361
Year: 2010 Program Type: SBIR Phase I
DUNS: 157030656 CAGE code: 1QK66
Year Founded: 2000 Website: www.ginerinc.com

The enhanced platform capabilities provided by more energetic systems will provide longer mission life and greater force projection distances. Such advantages will enable military planners’ greater options. In the civilian markets the operators of submersible vehicles, particularly those used in oil exploration and off-shore refining, will benefit from increased range and operating time. Scientific experimenters will similarly benefit from longer task sessions.

Technical Abstract:
This NAVY Small Business Innovation Research project is directed toward the development of a novel oxygen generator that employs microarray reactors to achieve high energy density, controllable gas release rate, high conversion efficiency and safe operation. By employing microarray reactors, a high surface area catalyst can be employed without localized high pressure and temperature zones that are usually associated with conventional pack bed reactors. The specific energy of this storage method meets the oxygen storage requirement at a vehicle power system level. Both liquid form and solid form oxygen storage strategies will be developed. The oxygen generator does not need active cooling and requires no additional energy other than liquid delivery, which reduces system complexity and improves efficiency.

Microarray reactor, oxygen generator, oxygen storage, oxygen evolution, fuel cell

Organization POC:
Anthony J. Vaccaro

Organization Address:
89 Rumford Avenue, Newton, MA 02466-1311

Topic Title:
Novel Volumetric and Gravimetric Oxygen Sources and Packaging Suitable for Unmanned Applications

Topic Objective:
Investigate and demonstrate novel volumetric and gravimetric oxygen sources for underwater applications with specific energies of 500-700 Whrs/kg at the system level.

Topic Description:
Underwater vehicles and weapons must operate in air-independent environments. There is the need to investigate novel oxidizer soucres for the operation in the abscence of air, and at the same time meet safety, cost and underwater operation requirements. Underwater vehicles will serve as key elements in integrated operations of future surface ships and submarines, providing a range of support functions including autonomous surveillance, mine counter measures, and special forces transport. However, current power sources for these vehicles (rechargeable silver-zinc or lithium ion batteries or high-energy primary batteries) do not meet the energy requirements for future missions, or they impose a tremendous logistics burden on the host vessel. Fuel cells offer a viable option for meeting mission energy requirements, and at the same time, they can reduce the host vessel logistics burden if the fuel and oxidizer can be stored in a safe, high energy density format. Fuel cells operating on hydrogen or more complex fuels (such as high energy density hydrocarbons) and oxygen are attractive as underwater power sources because they are efficient, quiet, compact, and easy to maintain. The total energy delivered by a fuel cell system is limited only by the amount of fuel and oxygen available to the fuel cell energy conversion stack. Unlike ground and air transportation fuel cell systems that only require an onboard fuel, underwater vehicles must carry both the fuel and the oxygen source because the oxygen concentration in the ocean is insufficient to meet vehicle power requirements. The underwater vehicle oxygen source must possess a high oxygen content (both weight and volume based) to accommodate the weight and volume constraints of the vehicle design, provide oxygen in a throttleable manner to load follow the fuel cell, and be amenable to safe handling and storage onboard submarines and surface ships. Gaseous oxygen storage does not provide adequate storage densities, while liquid oxygen storage introduces challenges with handling and storage. Other liquid sources, such as hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) require compact, efficient, controllable conversion methods to produce oxygen and handle reaction byproducts. Solid-state oxygen sources such as sodium chlorate (NaClO3) and lithium perchlorate (LiClO4) possess high oxygen contents and are stable under ambient conditions; however, decomposition of these materials to gaseous oxygen typically employs thermal methods that are often difficult to start, stop, and control. Therefore, innovative approaches to oxygen storage and generation are sought to address air-independent propulsion needs. The oxygen storage material may be a liquid or solid and may be fed to the conversion system as a liquid, a solid, or a solid in a carrier fluid (preferably water) as a slurry or a solution. The ability to mechanically recharge or replenish the oxygen source should be considered. To meet nominal undersea vehicle power requirements, throttleable oxygen delivery rates should be sufficient to power a typical fuel cell stack from 50 W to 5 kW. Oxygen storage capacity should be scalable to provide a minimum of 50 kilograms of useable oxygen gas. The available oxygen capacity should be maximized on a total system weight basis (i.e. weight percent oxygen), while maintaining a high volumetric density for the overall system.

Topic Phase I:
During Phase I: Demonstrate the volumetric and gravimetric oxygen source analyses to meet the specific energies of 500-700 Whrs/kg at the vehicle power system level. Conduct laboratory scale testing (TRL 2-3) to demonstrate feasibility of the system concept with high efficiencies (>80%) and evaluate the safety and handling criteria for such oxidizers. Develop a vehicle-level oxygen source system schematic.

Topic Phase II:
Based on Phase I assessments, further develop and optimize prototype demonstrations (TRL 4-5) and scalability approaches for the described system, and demonstrate a degree of commercial viability. Complete safety analyses.

Topic Phase III:
Phase III will be awarded after Phase II prototype demonstration and safety analyses are complete. The system will be ready for in-water demonstration in actual hardware and demonstrate a TRL 6. This demonstration must be completed with a commercial partner and with a commitment from a transition sponsor. PRIVATE SECTOR COMMERCIAL POTENTIAL/DUAL-USE APPLICATIONS: Technology can benefit ocean surveillance, underwater mapping industry.

Topic Keywords:
Investigate and demonstrate novel volumetric and gravimetric oxygen sources for underwater applications with specific energies of 500-700 Whrs/kg at the system level.

Topic References:
1. UUV Master Plan (http://www.navy.mil/navydata/technology/uuvmp.pdf)
2. Fuel Cell Systems, Leo J. M. J. Blomen, Michael N. Mugrewa, Ed., Plenum Publication Corp., NY (1994).
3. Undersea Vehicles and National Needs, National Research Council, National Academy Press, Washington D.C. (1996).
4. An Assessment of Undersea Weapons Science and Technology, National Research Council, National Academy Press, Washington D.C. (2000).
5. Russel R. Bessette, et al., J. Power Sources, 80 (1999) 248-253.
6. Øistein Hasvold, et al., J. Power Sources, 80 (1999) 254-260.

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