The state of Ohio recently awarded more than $8.9 million in grants to 12 entities for the advancement of fuel cell research and production in the state. The funds were awarded through the Ohio Third Frontier Fuel Cell Program.
The 12 companies and research collaborations received awards to assist in research, development, and commercialization projects of fuel cell technologies or were awarded grants for fuel cell and related technology market readiness demonstration projects.
2008 awards for research, development, and commercialization projects included:
Crown Equipment Corp., located in New Bremen (Auglaize County) was awarded $977,270 for a project to qualify targeted models of Crown Equipment’s lift trucks to be powered by commercially available battery replacement fuel cell power packs such as those being utilized by Plug Power. Crown will target and qualify as many of its truck models eligible for fuel cell equipment as is practical.
American Trim, located in Lima (Allen County) was awarded $1 million for its “Agile Hybrid Joining of Fuel Cell Bipolar Plates” project. American Trim will demonstrate that a full-function and scale hydrogen fuel cell product can be made that is cost competitive when compared with an internal combustion engine. Attaining this goal will require the use of new technology that can reliably join foil plates without the complications of other methods.
Energy Technologies, Inc., located in Mansfield (Richland County) was awarded $ 1 million to develop and deliver a fuel cell generator for military applications project. Energy Technologies, Inc., will deliver a fully functional 1.5 kW tactical fuel cell power plant prototype that includes the fuel cell module, replaceable/refillable hydrogen fuel canisters, power electronics, military-spec packaging, all subcomponents, and application and operation manuals. In addition, Energy Technologies intends to establish a new Ohio-based business named Tactical Fuel Cells, in which they will work with Michigan-based fuel cell manufacturer Energy Conversion Devices to produce fuel cell generation sets in the 2 to 10 kW range.
NexTech Materials, Ltd., located in Lewis Center (Delaware County) was awarded $1 million for a project to manufacture cells for 100+ kW SOFC power generation systems. NexTech Materials will fabricate and validate ultra-large area planar solid oxide fuel cells to be incorporated into 100+ kW power generation systems. Funds will be used to acquire equipment adequate for near-term production needs, establish testing capability for large area cell validation and support an Ohio State University development model.
Rolls-Royce Fuel Cell Systems (US), Inc., located in North Canton (Stark County) was awarded $ 1 million for the development of a high-pressure stack block test system for a fuel cell power module overhaul facility. Rolls-Royce Fuel Cell Systems is developing a MW-scale solid oxide fuel cell for stationary power generation. This project will help Rolls-Royce Fuel Cell Systems to design, fabricate, and demonstrate a stack block test system and develop a conceptual design for a generator module overhaul facility. This project will also assist Stark State College in developing its fuel cell technician training program.
UltraCell of Ohio, located in Vandalia (Montgomery County) was awarded $1 million to increase UltraCell’s maximum manufacturing capability for its first product, the XX25, a portable, reformed methanol fuel cell, from 800 units/month to more than 3,000 units/month. Completion of the project will move UltraCell’s fuel cell from the demonstration phase to market entry.
Catacel Corporation, located in Garrettsville (Portage County) was awarded $445,614 for a “High Volume Coating Process for Fuel Cell Catalytic Inserts” project. Catacel has developed a catalytic coating process that it uses to produce inexpensive metal foil components for heat exchangers used in fuel cell reformers and other energy conversion processes. This project is aimed at increasing the production rate of one of the key components called an insert. Catacel will build a pilot-scale production line to develop its catalyst-coated inserts.
GrafTech International Holdings, Inc., located in Parma (Cuyahoga County) was awarded $973,154 toward the commercialization of GRAFCELL bipolar plates for phosphoric acid fuel cell systems. GrafTech will develop and commercialize bipolar plates for phosphoric acid fuel cells using its expanded natural graphite technology. These activities will build upon GrafTech’s prior work developing bipolar plates for polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells. The goal is to develop a plate with performance equivalent to existing materials but at a much lower cost. GrafTech will produce sheets of graphite material that will then be machined into bipolar plates that will be tested by various fuel cell system developers.
Refractory Specialties Incorporated, located in Sebring (Mahoning County) was awarded $400,000 to drive down the cost of manufacturing solid oxide fuel cells by developing a kiln setter material that, with a suitable coating, has shown to meet performance requirements. Currently available kiln setters do not meet the technical performance or life requirements of the fuel cell industry. Refractory Specialities will scale-up the setter fabrication and coating process to sizes that could be used for testing by potential customers.
2008 awards for applied research and development included:
Akron Polymer Systems, located in Akron (Summit County) was awarded $349,644 for its “Nanocomposite Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) Fuel Cells that Operate at High Temperatures” project. Akron Polymer Systems will combine the enabling non-aqueous proton carrier technology, that they previously developed under a federal research and development grant, with inorganic nanoparticle technology to prepare a proton electrolyte membrane (PEM) that is suitable for extended use under conditions of high temperature and low relative humidity. They will also produce and test membrane electrode assemblies for use in automotive power systems, portable power systems, and small power systems as well as in military applications such as unmanned air vehicles and directed energy weapons.
Kent State University, located in Kent (Portage County) was awarded $299,548 for its “Third Generation PEFC Catalytic Layers” project. Platinum loading is a significant contributor to the cost of PEM fuel cells. Kent State University has developed a new approach using a very thin platinum shell on a nickel nano-wire substrate, which decreases the number of subsurface platinum atoms in the catalyst. General Motors has shown interest in testing these materials under its standard testing protocols, however the quantity of material required far exceeds Kent State University’s production capacity. This project will allow Kent State University to explore a higher yield catalyst fabrication process and to design and install this equipment at Kent State University.
2008 awards for market readiness demonstrations projects included:
HydroGen Corporation, located in Cleveland (Cuyahoga County) was awarded $525,140 for to increase the efficiency of a fuel cell power plant using cogeneration. HydroGen has completed the construction of a fuel cell power plant at ASHTA Chemicals and has determined that the electrical efficiency of the plant as constructed will be 33%. The target efficiency is 44%. This project aims to increase the electrical efficiency at the ASHTA Chemical plant. To improve the overall system efficiency and the project’s economic viability, HydroGen will add an Organic Rankine Cycle heat recovery unit that will provide additional electric generation to counterbalance the parasitic losses due to the need for hydrogen compression and the non-linear load profile resulting from operating a single fuel cell module.
Created in 2002, the Ohio Fuel Cell Initiative is a $103-million program that aims to spur job creation in Ohio while positioning the State as a national leader in the growing fuel cell industry. The initiative is an integral part of the Third Frontier Project, a $1.6 billion high-tech research program designed to create jobs and bring new products to market. To date, more than $70 million in funds have been awarded to Fuel Cell projects across the state.