DOE FY17 SBIR Phase I Release 2 topics include fuel cells, EV batteries, engines

08 November 2016

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has announced the 2017 Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) Phase I Release 2 topics, including three subtopics focused on hydrogen and fuel cell technologies. The fuel cell subtopics include innovative materials for bipolar plates; liquid organic hydrogen carriers; and emergency hydrogen refuelers.

The Phase I Release 2 topics also include four vehicle subtopics, including electric drive vehicle batteries; SiC device qualification for electric drive vehicle power electronics; fuel efficiency improvement technologies for conventional stoichiometric gasoline direct injection multi-cylinder internal combustion engines; and wide-range high-boost turbocharging system. Further, a technology transfer opportunity is the use of a new Argonne catalyst for reducing NOx.

The fuel cell topics:

• Innovative Materials and/or Technologies for Bipolar Plates for PEM Fuel Cell. This subtopic solicits applications that directly or indirectly address the cost and weight reduction of PEM fuel cell stacks. Applications should focus on innovative materials, manufacturing processes, and/or designs of bipolar plates. All proposed projects must demonstrate potential to meet or exceed DOE’s 2020 bipolar plate technical targets as well as the cost target of $3/kW. • Liquid Organic Hydrogen Carriers (LOHC). Applications are sought for the development and demonstration of a reversible LOHC that is non-toxic and enables hydrogen delivery to a refueling station or centralized terminal at <$5.00/kg, including the cost of the carrier itself, cost of the catalyst, and energy consumption associated with hydrogenation/dehydrogenation.

• Emergency Hydrogen Refuelers. Applications are sought for the development of two types of emergency hydrogen refuelers. The first is a roadside assistance—portable emergency hydrogen refueler to be carried on roadside assistance vehicles and capable of providing hydrogen to at least three stranded vehicles before needing to be recharged. The second is a personal device—portable emergency hydrogen refueler that can be carried onboard the fuel cell electric vehicle, such as in the trunk, easily handled by the driver, and able to provide hydrogen to at least one stranded vehicle.

The vehicle topics:

• Electric Drive Vehicle Batteries. Applications are sought to develop electrochemical energy storage technologies that support commercialization of micro, mild, and full HEVs, PHEVs, and EVs. Some specific improvements of interest include the following: new low-cost materials; high voltage and high temperature non-carbonate electrolytes; improvements in manufacturing processes – specifically the production of mixed metal oxide cathode materials through the elimination or optimization of the calcination step to reduce cost and improve throughput, speed, or yield; novel SEI stabilization techniques for silicon anodes; improved cell/pack design minimizing inactive material; significant improvement in specific energy (Wh/kg) or energy density (Wh/L); and improved safety.

• SiC Device Qualification for Electric Drive Vehicle Power Electronics. This topic seeks to demonstrate the successful production of > 200A, > 800V rated SiC devices that are designed for automotive qualification, and suitable for use in electric drive vehicle traction motor inverters. Specifically, devices produced should show automotive application readiness through passing full or partial qualification specifications or standards at high device production yields.

• Fuel Efficiency Improvement Technologies for Conventional Stoichiometric Gasoline Direct Injection Multi-Cylinder Internal Combustion Engine. The intent of this subtopic is to pursue the development of technologies that can improve the fuel economy of vehicles with modern Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI) engine powertrains while meeting regulated exhaust emissions requirements with modern 3-way catalytic converters under stoichiometric conditions.

For Phase I, applications must propose the development and demonstration of a functioning prototype by modifying a mass-produced, commercially available, GDI multicylinder automotive reciprocating engine, retrofitted with the subject technology. Reporting must include fuel consumption test results over representative operating points of the engine map with the prototype technology installed compared with test results over the same operating points of the unmodified engine. All fuel consumption testing must be conducted according to automotive industry norms. Only statistically valid fuel economy improvements (95% confidence level) will be considered for Phase II funding consideration.

Phase II work will focus on improving the effectiveness or durability of technologies successfully demonstrated in Phase I.

For this subtopic, novel ignitions systems by themselves will not be considered. Novel ignition systems may be considered as part of an improved technology package if they are necessary to employ other parts of the technology package.

• Wide-Range High-Boost Turbocharging System. A turbocharging system is needed that provides high boost pressure from a single turbocharger over an engine speed range of approximately 1000 rpm to 5000 rpm. DOE is seeking applications to develop and to test an advanced low-complexity turbocharging systems that provides high boost pressure at all engine speeds and that has minimal turbo lag.

The boosting system should support a maximum engine brake mean effective pressure of at least 25 bar as well as have high efficiency in order to maximize vehicle fuel economy. The turbocharging system should be compatible with current technology as well as emerging technology for engines, such as Miller Cycle engines variable valve timing systems, variable compression ratio engines, etc. Because of the ongoing emphasis on downsizing, these engines are expected to have high mechanical compression ratios, which should be considered.

Technologies that will not be considered under this subtopic include electrically, hydraulically or mechanically driven boost devices and the use of multiple turbochargers.

• Tech transfer: NOx Catalyst. Scientists at Argonne National Laboratory have developed a patented catalyst that can reliably and economically eliminate more than 90% of the nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from diesel-fueled engines. This technology is currently available for licensing.

The catalyst can be easily retrofitted on existing diesel engine vehicles. There is a potentially large pool of customers for this technology, given the 11 million diesel engines currently on the road. It is also being tested for stationary source applications such as remote power supplies (gensets) and coal-fired power plants.

At less than $3/KW FCs would be a lot cheaper, lighter and smaller than future$100/KW batteries?