DOE issues FY 2015 SBIR/STTR Release 2 funding opportunity, including hydrogen fuel cells, electric drive batteries
The US Department of Energy (DOE) has issued its FY 2015 Phase I Release 2 Funding Opportunity Announcement (DE-FOA-0001227) for the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Programs. Technical topics for this FOA—which span the range of DOE interests from fossil to nuclear to renewable and low-carbon energies—include two hydrogen- and fuel-cell-related topics: fuel cell-battery electric hybrid trucks and in-line quality control devices for polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cells.
Also included are electric drive vehicle batteries, power electronics, on-board reformers, and advanced crank and ignition mechanisms for combustion engines.
Approximately $23,735,000 is expected to be available for new awards under this FOA; DOE anticipates making approximately 150 awards. Phase I grants will be made during FY 2015 to small businesses with maximum award sizes of $150,000 or $225,000 depending on the topic. The goal of Phase I is to evaluate the scientific or technical merit and feasibility of ideas that appear to have commercial potential and/or substantial application in support of DOE mission research. Success in a DOE Phase I is a prerequisite to further DOE support in Phase II.
DOE also offers a Fast-Track grant option to expedite the decision and award of SBIR and STTR Phase I and II funding for scientifically meritorious applications that have a high potential for commercialization. Fast-Track incorporates a submission and review process in which both Phase I and Phase II grant applications are combined into one application and submitted and reviewed together. If milestones are not met in Phase I, authorization to proceed to Phase II may not be provided and the grant will discontinue following Phase I efforts.
DOE is encouraging qualified small businesses with strong research capabilities in science or engineering in any of the research areas designated in the announcement to apply.
Topics of interest for transportation include:
Fuel Cell-Battery Electric Hybrid for Utility or Municipal Medium-Duty or Heavy-Duty Bucket Trucks. Fuel Cell Technologies Office seeks applications with projects that develop and demonstrate hydrogen PEM fuel cell-battery electric hybrid trucks for medium-duty or heavy-duty bucket trucks with drivetrain-integrated electric power systems. Applications are sought for technology and value propositions that will help establish a business case and demonstrate fuel cell-battery electric hybrid truck technologies.
In-Line Quality Control (QC) Devices Technology Transfer Opportunity (TTO) Applicable to PEM Fuel Cell MEA Materials. FCTO has supported Manufacturing R&D to address industry-identified technical barriers to the scale-up of PEM fuel cells for mobile, stationary, and portable applications. Applications are sought that meet the critical need for in-line quality control devices for PEM fuel cell membrane electrode assembly (MEA) component manufacturing processes. Awardees will have access to technology developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and must design and fabricate a QC device that is ready for implementation in a roll-to-roll production line to produce one or more MEA component materials.
Electric Drive Vehicle Batteries. DOE is seeking applications to develop electrochemical energy storage technologies which support commercialization of micro, mild, and full HEVs, PHEVs, and EVs. Some specific improvements of interest include, but are not limited to, the following: new low-cost materials; high voltage and high temperature non-carbonate electrolytes; improvements in manufacturing processes, speed, or yield; improved cell/pack design minimized inactive material; significant improvement in specific energy (Wh/kg) or energy density (Wh/L); and improved safety. Phase I feasibility studies must be evaluated in full cells (not half cells) greater than 200mAh in size while Phase II technologies should be demonstrated in full cells greater than 2Ah.
SiC Schottky Diodes for Electric Drive Vehicle Power Electronics. While lower current (<50A) SiC Schottky diodes offered by a few SiC device suppliers have already penetrated solar and computer power supply manufacturers, higher, >100 A current remains a key threshold for automotive applications. The Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO) seeks applicants to overcome this SiC device current threshold barrier by demonstrating production of >100A, >600V rated diodes suitable for use in electric-drive vehicle traction motor inverters. Specifically, devices produced should show automotive application readiness by passing qualification specifications or standards while achieving high yields.
Onboard Fuel Separator or Reformer. On-board fuel separation or reformation has the potential to overcome infrastructure (e.g. pipeline, dispenser material compatibility) and consumer challenges associated with introducing fuel streams with specific desirable characteristics, such as very high-octane or evaporative cooling capability, during vehicle operation. After overcoming such challenges, these fuel streams would be able to positively affect the combustion process and result in increased efficiency for automotive vehicles. On-board separation/reformation technologies, if successful, could accelerate the deployment of vehicles with more efficient combustion designs that require specific fuel streams characteristics during some driving modes.
The technology developed under this subtopic must be capable of separating or reforming convention fuels and be packaged on conventional light or heavy duty vehicles without disrupting the existing system. The developed prototype must be capable of demonstrating a net 10% fuel economy improvement, and cost to manufacture on a production basis must not exceed $200/unit.
Alternative Crank Mechanisms for Internal Combustion Engines Leading to Improved Energy Efficiency. Reciprocating internal combustion (e.g. gasoline or diesel) engines for automotive applications use slider/crank mechanisms to create torque on an engine’s output shaft from forces applied to pistons as a result of the pressure created by the combustion of fuel. While direct mechanical losses of traditional slider/crank mechanisms are small, there is another indirect loss as a consequence of slider/crank use. Early in an engine’s power stroke, cylinder temperatures—and therefore convective and radiative heat losses—all peak. The engine’s rate of performing work is still very low reducing energy efficiency. The net effect may be that slider/crank mechanisms indirectly lead to preventable energy losses and reduced energy efficiency.Applications must propose the development of a functioning prototype of a mass-produced, commercially available reciprocating engine, modified with an alternative mechanical mechanism linking the piston to the engine’s output shaft is desired. Reporting must include fuel consumption test results over the entire engine map of the prototype compared with a second, unmodified, otherwise identical engine. All fuel consumption testing must be conducted according to engine industry norms. Statistically valid fuel economy improvements (95% confidence level) of at least 5.0% are desired.
Advanced Ignition System for Internal Combustion Engines Enabling Lean-Burn and Dilute Gasoline Ignition. Lean-burn combustion in gasoline (Otto-cycle) engines introduces physical conditions that severely impede reliable ignition of fuel-air mixtures. For Phase I, prototype ignition systems are sought that: extend the lean ignition limit to an air/fuel ratio >20; 4nable reliable ignition under high in-cylinder pressures (up to 100 bar at the time of ignition), thus enabling high load operation; enable operation under high levels of exhaust gas recirculation; and lower or maintain ignitability as measured by a coefficient of variance of IMEP <3%.
Typical candidates for this effort are advanced ignition systems such as laser ignition, microwave ignition, and plasma jet ignition. Prechamber combustion systems are not of interest for this subtopic.