Fuel Cell Range Extender for Battery-Powered Airport Ground Support Equipment

Period of Performance: 01/01/2011 - 12/31/2011


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Innovatek, Inc.
3100 George Washington Way
Richland, WA 99354
Principal Investigator
Firm POC


Airlines and ground handling companies are facing ever increasing pressure to reduce the level of emissions and fuel consumption from their operations because of the environmental impacts and costs. An efficient battery electric power system that has an extended range through integration with a fuel cell that operates on renewable liquid hydrocarbon fuel will meet the needs of airlines and ground handling companies to reduce emissions and fuel costs and provide the convenience of a standard liquid refueling operation. InnovaTek will collaborate with EnerFuel, a fuel cell developer, and JBT AeroTech, a ground service equipment (GSE) manufacturer, to develop a modular electric power system for an airport cargo loader that has an extended range of at least 10 hours operation. In addition, the team will interact with Boeing Corporation who will provide bioJet fuel and assure that the technology being developed meets user specifications. The technology will include a high temperature PEM fuel cell and a fuel processer that produces hydrogen from bioSPK, a nonfood, renewable synthetic paraffinic kerosene that is a substitute for JetA fuel. To meet the objective of integrating the reformer, fuel cell, and battery pack into the specified GSE envelope the overall system will be mechanically integrated such that heat interaction between the reformer and the fuel cell stack can be achieved in a constrained space using a single fuel cell/reformer thermal control subsystem. Working with Boeing and JBT AeroTech, InnovaTek will establish the performance and design specifications for an electric cargo loader that can operate continuously over a typical 10hr load profile. This will form the basis for an initial sizing and design of a prototype energy system. Preliminary process flow and piping and instrumentation diagrams will be prepared to analyze possible system configurations. Process simulation and analysis will be conducted to optimize system design and produce a complete mass and energy balance for individual components of the system. The information will provide a solid foundation for the design of the fuel reformer, heat exchangers, fuel cell, and power management system that will be fabricated in Phase II and integrated with batteries in a JBT cargo loader for demonstration at an airport.Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: A fuel cell that operates on renewable liquid fuels to extend the range of batterypowered vehicles has applications throughout the transportation industry, particularly in vehicles that are used over extended periods of time before they can be refueled/recharged. A transition to efficient, renewable energy systems will facilitate economic growth by reducing our dependence on oil from volatile regions, by reducing our foreign trade balance, by reducing the magnitude of oil price swings while at the same time increasing domestic economic activity. Three public goalsenvironmental quality, especially the reduction of greenhouse gas, energy reliability, and energy securitywill be achieved through use of the proposed technology.