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DOE SBIR/STTR FY18 BES Phase 1 Release 1 awards include 15 for hydrogen and fuel cells

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has announced the 2018 Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) Phase I Release 1 awards, including 15 projects focused on high density hydrogen storage, innovative ionomers (ion-containing polymers) in the catalyst layer, gas diffusion layers, and membranes for electrochemical production of hydrogen. These projects are awarded through the Office of Basic Energy Sciences (BES). Award winners include:

High Density Hydrogen Storage

  • NuMat Technologies: High-Density Hydrogen Storage in Space-Filling Polyhedral Sorbents. The proposed program will develop and demonstrate a new technology for effectively consolidating porous sorbent materials; thus, enabling the high-density storage of onboard hydrogen and bringing the US into the forefront of the global fuel-cell powered vehicle market.

  • Nextgen Battery Technologies: High-Density Hydrogen Storage in Space-Filling Polyhedral Sorbents. The proposed program will develop and demonstrate a new technology for effectively consolidating porous sorbent materials; thus, enabling the high-density storage of onboard hydrogen and bringing the US into the forefront of the global fuel-cell powered vehicle market.

  • E&G Associates, Inc.: Development of Novel Compaction Regimes for Hydrogen Storage Materials. Current technology for hydrogen storage requires high pressure systems which are too large and costly to be viable for transportation. This Phase I SBIR project’s objective is to develop a compact material based solution, which allows high volume hydrogen storage in a small footprint, making hydrogen powered vehicles more feasible.


  • Compact Membrane Systems: New Fluorinated Ionomers for Enhanced Oxygen Transport in Fuel Cell Cathodes. This program will develop improved cathode ionomers for proton exchange membrane fuel cells to help reduce their costs and potentially accelerate their widespread adoption for a “greener” hydrogen energy economy where the US is no longer predominately dependent on fossil fuels.

  • Giner, Inc.: Novel Fluorinated Ionomer for PEM Fuel Cells. The project will develop advanced ionomer and electrode components that may significantly enhance the durability and performance of proton exchange membrane fuel cells. Enhanced performance will lead to more cost reduction and public acceptance of hydrogen vehicles.

  • Tetramer Technologies: New Approaches to Improved PEM Fuel Cell Catalyst Layer. This proposal will not only help accelerate automotive fuel cells and stationary fuel cells, but will also provide a platform that could significantly influence many electrochemical processes reducing the costs for those processes as well.

Gas Diffusion Layers

  • AvCarb Material Solutions, LLC: Development of Innovative Gas Diffusion Layers for Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cells. Proton exchange membrane fuel cells provide clean energy for applications such as automotive, backup and portable power, but many technical and cost challenges limit their adoption. This program utilizes novel manufacturing techniques combined with state of the art material analysis to produce low-cost, high-performance materials to enable commercialization.

  • pH Matter, LLC: High Performance Gas Diffusion Layer. To demonstrate a low-cost fuel cell technology. The component developed on this project will improve the power output of fuel cell systems. The technology will be used for fuel cell vehicle applications.

  • Techverse, Inc.: GDL Media Development for Improved PEM Fuel Cell Performance. This project will develop a novel gas diffusion layer media used in automotive PEM fuel cells to maximize their performance and to reduce their cost. Commercialization of this technology will help adoption of the automotive fuel cells for their benefits and help United States to reduce its dependence on foreign oil and to reduce emissions.

  • Glacigen Materials, Inc.: Advanced Manufacturing of Gas Diffusion Layers with Highly Engineered Porosity. Fuel cells, like those being produced for the Toyota Mirai, require enhanced performance for more widespread adoption. This project enables that enhanced performance by creating a cell component which has long been theorized, but never made due to the need for advanced manufacturing techniques.

  • Physical Sciences, Inc.: Controlled Porosity and Surface Coatings for Advanced Gas Diffusion Layers. This Phase I effort will develop a low cost manufacturing process for advanced fuel cell components. It will help the United States regain leadership in advanced materials and energy technologies.

  • TDA Research, Inc.: Nanostructured Carbon-Based Gas Diffusion Layers for Enhanced Fuel Cell Performance. Fuel cells can be used in powering automobiles and various portable electronic devices, but they are still only used in niche applications because of their high costs. Greater use of PEM fuel cells (made possible by reducing the cost of the components) would create employment and investment opportunities in the US.


  • Giner, Inc.: Innovative Bilayer Microporous Layer for PEM Fuel Cells. The broad commercialization of fuel cell vehicles requires further cost reduction of the system. One of the approaches is to enhance the fuel cell power density for a given system size, which requires unhindered mass transport at high current operations. The gas diffusion media is a critical component to address the water and mass transport issue. This proposed bilayer microporous layer-based gas diffusion media design with combined pore size gradient and hydrophilic/hydrophobic gradient would enable to achieve these goals.

  • Xergy, Inc.: Novel membranes for Electrochemical Hydrogen Compression enabling increased pressure capability and higher pumping efficiency. As part of the infrastructure development for widespread hydrogen utilization, robust low-cost hydrogen compression is required. Xergy/RPI is developing membranes for hydrogen compression to high pressure to address this need. This adaptable membrane chemistry has utility in compression and occupancy sensors which will have a large impact on energy demand.

  • Sustainable Innovations: Novel Sulfonated Block Copolymers for Efficient Electrochemical Hydrogen Compression. Sustainable Innovations Inc. (SI), and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) are teaming to evaluate new ionic polymer membranes developed at RPI in SI’s electrochemical hydrogen separation and compression systems with the commercial goal of reducing the cost of hydrogen for industrial and fueling customers. Gaia Energy Research Institute will provide techno-economic analysis of the new membrane manufacturing costs.



Depending on funds made available for continued R&D, lower cost H2 compression/storage and lower cost improved FCs is a strong possibility.

Let's wait and see what will happen by 2023/2025?


This is how we make progress, one step at a time.
It was said discoveries are not "eureka" but "hmm that's interesting".

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