New Haven, CT, United States
New Haven, CT, United States
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Grant
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: STTR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 149.94K | Year: 2016

There is widespread concern regarding carbon emissions from fossil fuels, resulting in a drive towards improved efficiency in reactor (boiler) performance while reducing carbon emissions. Coal will continue to be a primary source of energy for economic growth for the foreseeable future, thus there is a push to reduce net carbon emissions of coal operated plants by replacing part of the coal with biomass sources. In order to reduce efforts in developing co-fed coal/biomass combustors, a strong design modelling capability must be developed. The overall goal of the proposed research is to develop a robust physics based model of a spouted bed reactor operating with coal/biomass mixtures that can be used to size and develop industrial-scale coal/biomass combustion systems. Development and validation of a physics-based computational model of a spouted bed with design- predictive capability with the use of coal and biomass mixtures will provide a powerful tool to mitigate the challenges associated with co-fired boilers (e.g. fuel segregation leading to poor combustion) and GHG emissions. In order to reduce the production of greenhouse gases, there is a push towards mixing of traditional fossil fuels with carbon neutral biomass sources. This program will accelerate this process of carbon emission reductions by producing a robust, physics-based analytical tool for advanced combustor designs. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: The benefit for commercial applications and the public will come from reduced development time and money required to design spouted bed reactors for coal and biomass, easing and speeding the development of a potentially attractive approach to further reduce net emissions from coal plants. The proposal helps in advancing U.S. and DOE missions of energy efficiency, energy independence, and mitigation of climate change.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 124.81K | Year: 2016

PCI will develop and demonstrate advanced materials and innovative structural elements integrated within the stack for efficient H2O/CO2 electrolysis to overcome known SOEC shortcomings. The key focus will be to mitigate anode delamination and enable operation at high pressure differentials. Capability for effective regenerative operation will be examined. In Phase I proof of concept will be demonstrated and in Phase II a rigorous scaled hardware operating at pressure will be demonstrated. PCI has been at the nexus of various fuel cell generator development efforts and is collaborating with a University, as a major subcontractor, to bring to bear considerable expertise in demonstrating an innovative SOEC cell architecture. Additionally, PCI has been working with NASA on multiple atmosphere revitalization efforts for over 20 years and has acquired a comprehensive understanding of the requirements for long duration manned spaceflight and for In-Situ Resource Utilization architecture.


Grant
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 999.41K | Year: 2015

Direct conversion of shale gas to useful chemicals or fuels has faced the central challenge that reaction rates and product yields high enough to be economic are accompanied by overreaction to full combustion products in either conventional or unconventional approaches. We are developing an integrated process combining alkane activation via oxidative coupling to form ethylene or higher alkene oligomers, which will be followed by direct-fed integrated ethylene to fuels process. A viable direct shale gas to fuels and/or chemicals process offers substantial energy savings with significantly reduced process complexity and capital intensity, as compared to industrially practiced large-scale indirect routes which include methane-steam reforming, followed by watergas shift, and then methanol synthesis or Fischer-Tropsch upgrading. While extensively investigated, this direct pathway is problematic due to reaction engineering constraints. Common features of both the oligomerization and ethylene polymerization reactions include potential to overreactions, especially to combustion products or waxy polymers, reaction rate limitations related to mass transfer, or need to moderate reaction rates due to excessive adiabatic heat of reactions. PCIs reactor technology has been developed to overcome these limitations while maintaining effectiveness of the catalysts. In Phase I we completed proof-of-concept testing that demonstrated the viability of our approach. Specifically, for reactions involving an overly reactive component, in this case oxygen, we were effective in limiting overreaction to carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, enhancing the yields of ethylene, while maintaining overall methane conversion levels, creating a pathway towards developing a economically viable process that will perform equally well in both small and larger scale projects. In Phase II, we will further develop our reactor technology for long term robustness, conduct small-scale pilot unit testing, and develop modeling tools directed at developing a process design package. The overall goal of the Phase II program will be to develop the design and operating specifications to enable a pilot-scale demonstration of our CMT reactor technology for the ethylene synthesis component of a shale-gas to gasoline or chemicals project. Success would simultaneously cut the costs of transportation fuels while also improving American energy independence and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 749.99K | Year: 2015

ABSTRACT: U.S military logistics fuels such as JP-8 and JP-5 are used across the full range of its IC engines, from those adapted from Avgas to Remove Piloted Aircraft (RPA) applications to heavy duty compression ignition engines. Yet unlike commercial diesel fuels, these distillate fuels have no cetane specification, and so vary widely in this key measure of ignition delay. The result can be substantial variation in fuel efficiency, engine operability, mission range, and maintenance requirements, a problem that could be helped by an inexpensive cetane sensor suitable for use on military IC engines. Using the measured cetane number to modify engine parameters such as ignition timing could notably improve the performance and capability of military IC engines. PCI has developed and in Phase I demonstrated an ultra-compact simple cetane sensor that directly measures ignition delay and offers to fill this need as well as some others. In Phase II, we will develop the sensor for military application, further improving miniaturization, performance and stage of development, while delivering a TRL-6 standalone prototype capable of field operation. BENEFIT: Anticipated benefits of knowing the cetane number would be information that could be used in an engine controller to improve engine performance, efficiency and life, which in turn could extend RPA range and capability while extending maintenance cycles. Similar benefits could accrue in larger engines, plus in such engines fuel efficiency gains could also become significant. Commercial applications include for RPAs and other unmanned vehicles, for small and large compression ignition engines (including for cases with diesel fuel where further cetane information could be helpful even with a specification), and for refineries, where a real time sensor may aid in improving yield.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Army | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 993.75K | Year: 2016

Precision Combustion, Inc. (PCI) developed and demonstrated an extremely compact Microlith based reformer for enabling effective and efficient SOFC operation with up to 3000 ppmw sulfur JP8 or diesel fuels. The reformer is based upon PCIs novel sulfur tolerant Microlith catalyst and reactor designs. In Phase I, potential system solutions for 10 kWe APU system were evaluated and water neutral designs were developed and experimentally confirmed in collaboration with stack OEMs. Additionally reformers capability of producing SOFC quality reformate with up to 3000 ppmw sulfur JP8 via the implementation of a reliable and robust desulfurization approach, packaged within the reformer, was demonstrated without any performance degradation. A detailed packaging analysis with all system components (stack, reformer, water recovery, BOP, HX, burner, controls) with piping and instrumentation, indicated suitability of fitting within the Abrams space claim. During Phase II, PCI will build on the results of Phase I and build and demonstrate a power dense, standalone, packaged, TRL5/ 6, 10 kWe JP8 Reformer System integrated with associated balance of plant (BOP) components (e.g., pumps, air blower, sensors, controllers, sulfur cleanup, and electronics) for delivery to TARDEC for further evaluation.


Grant
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 154.92K | Year: 2016

The increased demand for hydrogen supply at refineries can be met by reforming unconventional sources like still gas. However, processing capabilities are limited based on traditional approaches due to the varying composition of still gas. We propose a simple system for hydrogen recovery from still gas to meet the growing demand of hydrogen in the refinery process without significant capital investment. Statement of how this Problem or Situation is Being Addressed: Use of novel catalyst and reactor technology will allow processing and reforming of still gas over a wide range of composition. Native sulfur from still gas will be effectively removed as H2S, followed by steam reforming for producing H2-rich syngas. H2 is recovered via adsorption to meet Department of Energy targets for hydrogen recovery and efficiency. During Phase I we will demonstrate the concept feasibility with prototype system development in Phase II. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: Still gases are an attractive feedstock option for H2 generation. By utilizing low value, excess still/refinery gas, refineries can reduce their consumption of costly traditional petrochemical H2 plant feedstocks, such as natural gas, Liquefied Petroleum Gas, butane or naphtha, resulting in significant reduction in operation cost and energy savings. Key Words – Hydrogen generation, steam reformer, refinery gas, still gas, reforming.


Grant
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 154.93K | Year: 2016

The average platinum group metals loading on gasoline light duty vehicles needs to be reduced. However modern engine designs and engine operation strategies for maximizing engine efficiency create an added burden on the emissions control system. Consequently, reducing precious metal catalyst loading for improved emissions is becoming problematic. This has resulted in higher emissions control costs and is a barrier for implementing high efficiency solutions. Statement of how this Problem or Situation is Being Addressed – The proposal builds upon prior work to demonstrate significantly reduced platinum group metal usage for exhaust after-treatment by utilizing its patented Microlith catalytic substrates and low loading catalyst formulations. These are catalytically coated metal meshes with extremely high geometric and specific surface areas and order of magnitude higher mass and heat transfer coefficients compared to conventional monolithic ceramic or metal substrates in use today. Demonstration of lower catalyst loading in a simulated test rig and via vehicle emissions testing will be completed in Phase I. Extensive durability testing, vehicle controls integration and optimization will be done in Phase II. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits – The primary public benefit is to ease economic barriers to increasing fuel economy and air quality requirements by providing a design breakthrough that can lead to new solutions across the automotive map of efficiency, emissions and performance. Collaboration with a Tier 1 automotive supplier and an emissions control expert has been proposed to facilitate transition. Key Words – Microlith, Catalyst, PGM, emissions, after-treatment, coatings, surface area, mass transfer.


Grant
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 154.95K | Year: 2016

Conversion of carbon dioxide to useful products via reaction with methane is problematic due to the energy inputs needed to overcome the large endothermic heats of reaction involved. Moreover, use of fossil fuels or carbon-based renewable fuels as energy sources will result in more CO2 released than is converted. Non-carbon renewable sources of energy, including wind and solar, are intermittent and so present challenges in terms of availability of the high quality, high temperature thermal energies needed for high-yield CO2 upgrading. Our process makes effective use of intermittent high-grade solar energy by employing a multi-functional material. This material enables the alternating capture and release of solar energy, using the exothermic part of the cycle to convert the endothermic reaction of CO2 and CH4 to CO- and H2-containing syngas. This process utilizes our highly efficient catalyst support for enhanced reaction rates, enabling process intensification and scalability. This combination and approach will enable effective use of intermittent solar power, regardless of location, as a pathway to converting greenhouse gases to hydrocarbon-based products. Our process provides an alternative to storage of captured carbon, while using renewable solar energy as a power source. The opportunity to convert captured carbon to fuels and chemicals via concentrated solar power avoids the costs and risk of storage and delivers a valuable energy resource. Our scalable process transforms CO2 and CH4 into syngas, which is then readily convertible into a range of chemicals or fuels, providing an alternative to conventional petroleum refining. Our process allows carbon-emitting operations to avoid the considerable costs of transporting and providing long term storage of captured carbon. Further, our approach uses the energy from a 100% renewable resource, heat from a concentrated solar power collector, to drive our process. We see our process as complimentary to carbon capture technologies, replacing some or all of the equipment required for storage, making carbon capture more economic regardless of CO2 source, including coal, natural gas or biofuels. Key Words – concentrated solar power, carbon dioxide, methane, syngas, renewable, SunShot


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 124.87K | Year: 2016

Trace contaminants that are introduced into the ventilation loop of a spacesuit (primarily ammonia and formaldehyde) via metabolic processes, off-gassing of spacesuit materials, and by-products of the amine used in the rapid cycle amine (RCA) system are typically removed using activated charcoal. Although effective, the downside of using these materials is a bulky system with low regeneration capability, a reliance on consumables, significant power consumption, and consequently high associated life cycle operating cost. Precision Combustion, Inc. (PCI) proposes a new material paradigm for the Trace Contaminant Control System (TCCS) based upon its novel adsorbent nanomaterials that have high surface area and can be designed to achieve uniquely-targeted sorbent properties including minimizing competitive sorption with water and CO2 and vacuum regeneration without heating. PCI will apply the developed nanomaterials on ultra-short channel length, lightweight Microlith? support substrates to permit practical implementation of the sorbent for a real-time vacuum swing regenerable TCCS. Successful implementation of PCI?s modular strategy will increase flexibility of equipment while reducing total volume and material inventory required for TCCS and atmosphere revitalization applications. Additional benefits include humidity tolerance, as well as reduced volume, weight, pressure drop, energy consumption, and reliance on consumables.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 749.94K | Year: 2016

Precision Combustion, Inc. (PCI) proposes to develop and demonstrate an innovative high power density design for direct internal reforming of regolith off-gases (e.g., methane and high hydrocarbons) within a solid oxide stack. The resulting breakthrough design offers the potential for higher overall efficiency, simplifies the system, and enables further compactness and weight reduction of the fuel cell system while significantly improving SOFC stack efficiency and the conditions for long system life. The approach also offers the potential to operate with a wide range of input fuels (i.e., high hydrocarbons as well as various levels of CO2 and water) without forming carbon. In Phase I all objectives and proposed tasks were successfully completed to demonstrate internal reforming concept for a high-power density, CH4-fueled solid oxide stack system. In Phase II, we will build on Phase I success to develop, fabricate, and demonstrate a TRL-4, breadboard solid oxide stack system operating with CH4. PCI's integrated reformer/fuel cell system will be much smaller, lighter, more thermally effective and efficient, and less expensive than current technology or prospective alternative structured catalytic reactor technologies. This effort would be valuable to NASA as it would significantly reduce the known spacecraft technical risks and increase mission capability/durability/efficiency while at the same time increasing the TRL of the solid oxide systems for ISRU application.

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