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Somerset, NJ, United States

Agency: Environmental Protection Agency | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 99.99K | Year: 2014

NEI Corporation proposes to develop a new and sustainable aqueous electrolyte-based lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery system that is capable of delivering high energy density, comparable to state-of-the-art Li-ion batteries. Almost all commercial Li-ion batteries use an organic electrolyte, which is flammable and has been a concern particularly in large format Li-ion batteries. In addition, there are toxicity and other environmental concerns associated with the non-aqueous electrolyte solvents. The principal feature of the proposed effort is the use of a modified high-capacity cathode in conjunction with a functionalized anode that is capable of reaching much higher cell voltages than aqueous systems reported to date. The wider electrochemical potential, combined with the use of a high capacity cathode, will result in an increase in the energy density. Accordingly, the proposed aqueous electrolyte system eliminates the toxicity and flammability associated with organic electrolytes, thereby leading to a safe and environmentally benign system. Also, the proposed approach will eliminate the use of solvents that is so common during electrode fabrication.The target gravimetric and volumetric energy densities for the proposed aqueous electrolyte-based Li­ion system at the pack level are 250Wh/kg and 750 Wh/1, respectively. The Phase 1 effort will entail synthesis and characterization of the modified cathode and anode, along with structural and electrochemical characterization of the cell. In Phase 2, the structure and composition of the electrodematerials will be further optimized, and the ability to fabricate the materials in large volume will be demonstrated. In addition, by working in partnership with battery manufacturers, the newly developed cathode material will be integrated into large format Li-ion batteries. Prototype cell packs will be fabricated and tested by the end of the Phase 2 program.

Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 124.98K | Year: 2014

Composite cryotanks, or Composite Overwrapped Pressure Vessels (COPVs), offer advantages over currently used aluminum-lithium cryotanks, particularly with respect to weight savings. Future NASA missions are expected to use COPVs in spaceflight propellant tanks to store fuels, oxidizers, and other liquids for launch and space exploration vehicles. However, reliability and reusability of the COPVs are of concern, especially in cryogenic temperature applications; this limits adoption of COPVs in future reusable vehicle designs. The major problem with composites is the inherent brittleness of the epoxy matrix, which is prone to microcrack formation, either from exposure to cryogenic conditions or from impact from different sources. If not prevented, the microcracks can grow into larger cracks, leading to catastrophic failure and loss of function of the composite. Accordingly, materials innovations are needed to mitigate, as well as self-heal, microcrack damage in composite cryotanks. In Phase I we propose to demonstrate microcrack prevention and mitigation in composite test panels through the use of a novel nanocomposite matrix containing engineered nanoscale materials which will also enable self-healing of microcracks. Phase II will build upon the Phase I program in order to optimize the material design and to characterize the long-term durability of the scaled-up composite test panels.

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.

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.

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.

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