The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded three companies funds that will help drive new technologies for hydrogen and fuel cell projects. The DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) is mobilizing the funding through the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) program.
Composite Technology Development Inc., Lafayette, Colo., will optimize the cost and performance of composite cylinders for hydrogen storage using a graded construction. Current state-of-the-art hydrogen storage vessels for fuel-cell electric vehicles are cost-prohibitive because of the necessary carbon fiber. This project will seek to reduce the cost of these vessels by 25% by using less expensive fibers.
Torrance, Calif.-based Nextgen Aeronautics Inc. will incorporate low-cost nanoreinforcement into high-pressure all-composite tank designs to improve composite performance and lower costs. This project will develop fibers, resins and/or additives that will result in composite-reinforced gas cylinders for hydrogen storage that meet or exceed the performance specifications of today's carbon fiber tanks but at a lower cost (at least 25% lower than the projected high-volume cost of the carbon fiber layer for a 700 bar tank system).
Also, Treadstone Technologies Inc. of Princeton, N.J., will develop a novel, low-cost structured metal bipolar plate technology for low-temperature PEM fuel cells for transportation applications. The bipolar plate will be used during the manufacturing process and will help meet EERE's goal of reducing the cost of an 80 kW fuel cell system to $30/kW (equivalent to the cost of a gasoline internal combustion engine) for automotive fuel cell systems by 2017 (produced at high volume).