Somerset, NJ, United States
Somerset, NJ, United States

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Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Navy | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 300.00K | Year: 2014

Thermal batteries provide a short burst of high power to various components in smart munitions, such as missiles launched from UAVs and other systems. There is a need for thermal batteries that have higher energy density and power density, and longer run time than the state of the art batteries, which use micron-scale particles in the cathode, anode and electrolyte. In the Phase I program, we demonstrated the advantages of using engineered nanoscale particles as the cathode. High purity, nanosized iron disulfide was produced using both a wet chemical method and a solid state process. Cell level testing showed a greater than 50% decrease in impedance when nanoparticles were used, implying that substantially higher power densities are possible in the nanomaterial-enabled thermal battery. Nearly 20 percent increase in run time was also observed. The goal of the Phase II program is to advance the Technology Readiness Level to 5 by scaling up the cathode nanoparticle synthesis process, and fabricating and testing prototype thermal batteries of specifications currently used by the US Navy.Additionally, the structure and composition of the cathode will be optimized to maximize performance. The proposed effort is collaboration with a leading US manufacturer of thermal batteries. The technology will be transitioned into specific Navy applications in Phase III by working in collaboration with prime contractors who manufacture the missiles.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 749.99K | Year: 2013

ABSTRACT: Due to their high strength to weight ratio, fiber reinforced composites (FRCs) are attractive structural materials for Air Force applications. Multi-functional self-healing FRCs will be beneficial in applications that either currently use FRCs, or will use them in the future. The introduction of high loading levels of dispersed and aligned carbon nanotubes (CNTs) will enable enhanced mechanical and electrical properties not otherwise achievable, and the self-healing property will enable a damaged FRC component to be healed to as-good-as-new condition. We call this the SAN-FRC approach (Self-healing Aligned carbon Nanotubes). Damage to an FRC structure most frequently occurs at the interface between the matrix and the fiber; the proposed technology addresses this by delivering a self-healing function, as well as CNT reinforcement, at this critical boundary. Building upon the proof of concept demonstrated during Phase I, we will implement this technology into FRCs within the context of a manufacturing process during the Phase II effort. To accomplish the goals of the Phase II program, we have put together a team that includes manufacturers and a DoD prime contractor, in addition to our university partner. This will allow us to further develop the technology with a focus on manufacturing and end-use applications, from both a DoD and a commercial perspective. Life-cycle costs to produce the composite material and prototype structures will be determined in collaboration with a commercial prepreg/FRC manufacturer. Prototype samples will be delivered to the Air Force for testing. We expect the TRL to be 5 at the end of the Phase II program. Future R & D will include additional long term testing and validation, which will help commercialization and full implementation. BENEFIT: Currently, there is no commercialized technology for self-healing resins for composite materials. Additionally, the current use of CNTs in FRCs is challenging due to both the lack of alignment of the CNTs, as well as the difficulty in dispersing them in the polymer matrix, especially in high concentrations. The proposed technology solves these issues by delivering a commercial-ready means of incorporating both the aligned/dispersed CNTs and the self-healing agent to the matrix and fiber interface, where they are needed the most. This allows self-healing of microcrack damage, as well as enhancement in mechanical, electrical and thermal properties. The developed technology can be implemented in carbon tow, carbon weave, towpreg and prepreg. Commercial end-use markets that would benefit from the technology include commercial aircraft, aerospace, automotive, composite overwrapped pressure vessels as used for storage of liquids and fuels, and sporting goods.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 125.00K | Year: 2014

We propose to develop an all solid state Li-ion battery which is capable of delivering high energy density, combined with high safety over a wide operating temperature range. The proposed effort builds upon an in-house developed inorganic solid electrolyte that has demonstrated high ionic conductivity at room temperature (1.5x10-2 S/cm). The primary objective of the Phase I program is to demonstrate that the recently invented solid electrolyte can be formulated into a useable form in a practical Li-ion battery, and that traditional challenges associated with the use of a solid electrolyte can be overcome. A key innovation is the use of a unique composite morphology for the solid electrolyte, wherein passive components, such as the binder and separator, are replaced by an active conductive electrolyte network. The proposed new solid electrolyte will fully eliminate the flammability issues of conventional Li-ion batteries, thereby leading to a safer device with high thermal and mechanical stability. The target energy density for the proposed solid electrolyte based Li-ion cell at the cell level are: greater than 500Wh/kg (gravimetric) and 2700 Wh/l (volumetric), while maintaining 80% of initial capacity after 500 cycles under full depth of discharge. The Phase I effort entails fabrication of the proposed composite solid electrolyte, and cell level testing with a suitably modified cathode and anode. A successful Phase I program will lay the foundation for prototype cell and cell-pack demonstration in Phase II, where Li-ion cells will be designed, assembled, and tested to meet the requirements of NASA for safety, cycle life and energy density. Prototype cells will be delivered to NASA at the end of the Phase II program.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 124.94K | Year: 2016

The proposed program addresses NASA's need for a new generation of icing mitigation technology for manned and unmanned vehicles, particularly related to icing on airframe of flight into supercooled liquid water clouds and regions of high ice crystal density. The state of the art active deicing method on leading edges involves either an electrical, pneumatic or vibration induced debonding of accumulated ice. With the advent of icephobic nanocoatings, there have been attempts to develop a durable passive anti-ice coating. However, success to date has been limited. The state of the art can be advanced if anti-ice coatings can be made more durable, and are made to function synergistically with active de-icing techniques. The advantages are reduced power consumption, improved service life of mechanical components, lighter electronics and extra protection in case of failure of active device. Working in collaboration with a manufacturer of low power ice protection systems for commercial and military aircraft, we propose in Phase I to demonstrate the feasibility of incorporating a durable anti-ice coating with an active deicing device. The proposed program builds upon NEI's core competency of introducing desirable functionalities into engineered coatings. The anti-ice/deicing performance will be tested at our collaborator's icing wind tunnel. The objective of the Phase II program will be to further refine the coating composition and coating deposition process, as well as the configuration of the baseline active deicing device so as to deliver a working prototype of an integrated ice protection system that combines a passive anti-ice coating and an active deicing device.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 125.00K | Year: 2016

The proposed program addresses NASA's need for advanced battery technologies, and in particular the energy storage needs for Extravehicular Activities. The most advanced commercially available Li-ion batteries use intercalation-based cathode materials, where the energy density is limited by the oxidation states of the metal oxide and the availability of lithium ions. In contrast, non-oxide cathode materials based on conversion mechanism offer an opportunity to realize exceptionally high capacity. Literature reports suggest that an energy density in excess of 1200 Wh/kg is possible at the material level. However, it has been a challenge to obtain such high performance at the cell level in practical batteries. Building upon NEI's experience in synthesis, surface modification and functionalization of nanoscale materials, the Phase I program aims to demonstrate the commercial feasibility of a new class of Li-ion batteries that utilizes a unique cathode architecture. In Phase I, materials will be synthesized and assembled into cells, and electrochemically tested under parameters of relevance to NASA's EVA application. Sample cathode materials will be submitted to NASA at the end of the Phase I program. In Phase II, 2Ah capacity Li-ion cells with cell-level specific energy and energy density of 500Wh/kg and 1000 Wh/l, respectively, will be fabricated and delivered to NASA.


Grant
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 149.99K | Year: 2016

Statement of the problem or situation that is being addressed in your application Radioiodine is produced during neutron-induced fission reaction when 235U atoms are split into lower atomic weight isotopes such as 129I. Some of the water bodies at sites where reactors were fueled by uranium are contaminated with 129I. Currently there is no viable technology that can lower the concentration of 129I to acceptable levels. This is due the fact that most of the commercially available sorbents are not selective to iodine. Further, iodine forms a weak bond with these sorbents, leading to significant desorption. The proposed Phase I program aims to address the challenge of developing a sorbent that has high selectivity for iodine, as well as forms a strong bond with iodine to have irreversible adsorption. General statement of how this problem is being addressed The objective of the Phase I program is to demonstrate the feasibility of a new sorbent that has high specificity for 129I adsorption, particularly in the presence of competing anions. Through innovations in the structure, morphology and surface characteristics of high surface area materials, we propose to develop a sorbent that is robust enough for long-term in situ deployment. Successful laboratory bench scale testing in Phase I will be followed by field studies in Phase II. What is to be done in Phase I? Working in collaboration with a researcher at an academic institution with expertise in radionuclide remediation, and building upon NEI’s core competency in developing nanoparticle-based sorbents, we will synthesize the sorbent, and characterize for particle morphology and composition. The adsorption capacity of the sorbent will be determined under various parameters, such as concentration of competing anions, pH, ionic strength, and organic ligands. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits While the proposed program is focused on developing a sorbent to remove 129I from nuclear fission sites, the technology itself is generic and can be used to remove a wide range of contaminants such as radionuclides, heavy metals, and other inorganic and organic contaminants from wastewater. The global market for sorbents, which includes molecular sieves, activated carbon, alumina, silica gel and clay has the potential to reach $4.3 billion by 2020 at a CAGR of 6.3%. Iodine-129 (129I), along with Technetium-99 and Carbon-14, are among the most prevalent environmental contaminants at radiological waste disposal sites as well as in the groundwater at nuclear material fabrication and processing plants. The proposed program provides a significant public benefit by developing a sorbent that can efficiently remove 129I from the contaminated sites. Other areas where the proposed technology can be used include municipal drinking water treatment, industrial process water treatment, and industrial wastewater treatment. Key Words Sorbent, Radionuclides, Fission, Nuclear, Iodine-129, 129I, Selectivity, Wastewater, Anion


Grant
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: STTR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 149.99K | Year: 2016

Despite the dramatic growth of natural gas resources, methane (the major component in natural gas) is underutilized as a feedstock for the production of chemicals and liquid fuels. Currently, methane conversion relies on an indirect two-step gas-to-liquid (GTL) technology. This process is energy intensive and has high operating costs. We propose to develop a new approach to directly convert methane to chemical fuels and high performance carbon materials. The method is expected to have high efficiency so as to be commercially viable. General statement of how this problem is being addressed The proposed Phase I STTR program aims to develop a novel cold plasma catalysis hybrid technology to selectively convert methane into C2-C3 hydrocarbons that are precursors for diverse useful commercial products. Cold plasma catalysis at lower temperatures opens up a pool of less active (but more selective) catalysts that are not sufficiently active or stable for use in high-temperature thermal methane reforming. In collaboration with our STTR partner at Princeton University, we will synthesize and test the performance of the catalyst in a non-equilibrium plasma. The collaborative effort will advance the state-of-the-art by carrying out the process with high energy efficiency. What is to be done in Phase I? The Phase I program entails first, synthesizing the catalysts and characterizing the structure. Subsequently, the catalyst performance will be evaluated in the cold plasma-catalysis hybrid reactor. Catalyst synthesis and materials characterization will be done at NEI while performance testing will be carried out by our collaborator. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits Natural gas is used as both a raw material and as a source of heat in manufacturing processes. In the chemical sector, it is used to manufacture a wide range of chemicals such as ammonia, methanol, butane, ethane, propane and acetic acid. With the depletion of petroleum reserves, methane is expected to become the most important hydrocarbon feedstock for the synthesis of fuels and chemicals. The proposed cold plasma-catalysis hybrid approach for chemical conversion provides an economical alternative for conversion of natural gas to chemical fuels and high performance carbon materials. The success of the disruptive technology will open up new markets for natural gas. Chemical manufacturers are seeking economical methods for direct conversion of natural gas into higher value products. We propose an alternative to directly convert methane to chemical fuels with high energy efficiency. By the end of Phase II or Phase III, we will have developed a value proposition and positioned ourselves to license the cold plasma catalysis technology to chemical manufacturers. Key Words Natural gas, methane, cold plasma, non-equilibrium plasma, catalyst, selectivity, energy efficiency


Grant
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 150.00K | Year: 2016

The state-of-the-art polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) for fuel cells is based on perfluorosulfonic acid (PFSA) ionomers. Besides the high cost, PFSA materials face challenges such as decreased proton conductivity at high operating temperatures, water management issues and CO poisoning. Lower cost non-PFSA membranes with satisfactory performance have not been developed to date. The present proposal addresses this market need. The proposed Phase I program aims to develop a novel non-PFSA polymer electrolyte membrane, utilizing highly proton conducting heteropolyacids (HPAs) in an organic matrix in a way that has not been explored before. The novel HPA/polymer membrane has a unique structure that ensures that the active proton conducting species (HPA) are contained in a continuous interconnected channel. The overall objective of the Phase I program is to demonstrate the feasibility of a robust PEM that has high proton conductivity, low H2 and O2 cross-over and is highly durable for extended use in a fuel cell. NEI has partnered with a well- established fuel cell company to test membrane properties in a fuel cell assembly. The combined effort will advance the state-of-the-art of PEM for fuel cells. The Phase I program entails fabricating a set of PEM samples following the steps laid out in the proposal, characterizing the membrane structure, and evaluating its performance in a fuel cell environment. Membrane fabrication and structural characterization will be done at NEI, while membrane properties related to fuel cell performance will be carried out by our collaborator. Improving membrane performance while lowering cost will help overcome technical and economic obstacles in the commercialization of fuel cells. When the project is carried over into Phase III and beyond, fuel cells with improved proton exchange membranes will find more applications in the transportation, stationary, and portable sectors. The proposed polymer electrolyte membrane aims to expedite the implementation of PEM fuel cells in the transportation and stationary power sectors. Additionally, it will eliminate greenhouse gas emission. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: The proposed novel PEM for fuel cells will have significantly improved proton conductivity and increased efficiency compared to state-of-the-art PEM based on PFSA ionomers. The membrane will be made of conventional materials that are not PFSA based, which means reduced material cost compared to PFSA ionomers. In addition, the developed membrane will have better high temperature (~120°C) performance than state-of-the-art PFSA membranes. Improving membrane performance while lowering the cost will expedite the implementation of PEM fuel cells, especially in the transportation sector. The proposed project will also support development of fuel cells for stationary power and auxiliary power applications.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 748.07K | Year: 2015

The space suit assembly (SSA) contains metallic bearings at the wrist, neck, and waist, which are exposed to space environment, and pose a potential shock hazard. Current methods to mitigate the hazard are short-term, and there is a need for an insulative and durable coating on the metallic components. In Phase I, working with a supplier of space suits to NASA, we demonstrated proof-of-concept of a novel Self-Healing Coating (SHC) system which is highly insulative and is capable of healing surface damages at ambient conditions. The three-layered self-healing coating was applied on flat panels of stainless steel, titanium and aluminum. In addition to self-healing, the ability of the coating to resist impact damage was demonstrated. Building upon the successful Phase I demonstration, the focus of the Phase II effort will be to further test and optimize the SHC system and implement on a prototype metallic bearing. The Phase II objectives include: (i) ensuring that the self-healing coating system can be used in space environment; (ii) determining the least coating thickness that will provide both self-healing and electrical resistance; (iii) developing a suitable process for depositing the coating on components of different geometries; and (iv) developing a property and performance data set that best predicts useful life of the coating. Successful development will culminate in applying the SHC system on a prototype component and performing the needed qualification testing. We anticipate achieving a TRL of 6 by the end of the Phase II program. The work plan includes preparing coating solutions and coating flat test panels; conducting performance tests and optimizing coating thickness using coated plates; qualifying the SHC system for use in a space environment; developing a property and performance data set that best predicts useful life of the coating; applying SHC system to a prototype hardware; and evaluating performance of coating on prototype hardware.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 749.99K | Year: 2014

ABSTRACT: The use of energetic nanomaterials in munitions has the potential to increase lethality due to the high energy content provided by these materials. However, the propensity of nanoparticles, such as aluminum, to prematurely oxidize significantly reduces the total energy content. Such oxidation is unavoidable in any current large-scale commercial process for producing aluminum nanoparticles. In Phase I, we began developing a new class of core-shell nanoparticles with both a novel structure and a unique composition that addresses the drawbacks of state of the art metallic energetic nanoparticles. The core-shell composite nanoparticles are expected to have desirable functionalities, such as reduced oxygen contamination, intermetallic reaction for enhanced energy content, and air-stability. The feasibility of producing the core-shell nanoparticles, and their beneficial attributes, were demonstrated in Phase I. Building upon the Phase I proof of concept, and in collaboration with experts in the field of energetic materials, the proposed Phase II program provides a stepping stone towards developing a commercially viable process for producing nanocomposite energetic particles. The objectives of the Phase II program are (i) to scale up the technology and assemble a prototype production system, (ii) demonstrate a production rate of at least 500 g/batch in a 5 hour time period, and (iii) show superior combustion properties of the core-shell nanoparticles compared to state-of-the-art aluminum nanoparticles. We anticipate achieving a TRL of at least 5 by the end of the Phase II program. BENEFIT: Core-shell energetic nanoparticles can be used as solid propellants for commercial launch vehicles, satellites, military launch vehicles, and missiles. Additionally, these materials can be used to enhance military pyrotechnics to deliver improved battlefield illumination or compact and very high heat sources for the destruction of chemical and biological weapons. Further, they can be used to enhance the safety and performance of commercial pyrotechnics due to their high degree of stability in air and significantly faster rate of reaction. Other potential military applications include consumable port covers for ramjet engine inlets, ramjet fuels, self-ejecting combustible plumes for large-area heating, thermal battery heat sources and shaped-charge liners. Additional commercial applications include in situ soldering and welding, thermal battery heating pellets, airbags, drug injection, ammunition primers, detonators, electric matches, micro-actuators, micro-pumps, micro-thrusters, micro-switches and micro-valves.

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