Flexible Barrier Coatings for Harsh Environments

Period of Performance: 01/01/2014 - 12/31/2014


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

GVD Corporation
45 Spinelli Place Array
Cambridge, MA 02138
Principal Investigator, Firm POC


There is a need to reduce the cost and improve the reliability of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) and their supporting infrastructure to enable FCEV competitiveness. Many reliability problems stem from plastic and elastomer seals employed in hydrogen systems that leak and degrade as a result of the extreme temperature and high pressure hydrogen environments. There is a critical need for improved materials are needed that can enable seals to operate reliably at both extreme temperatures (-50T200C) and high hydrogen pressures ( & gt;875 bar). GVD Corporation proposes to develop hydrogen gas barrier coatings deposited on such seals to shield them from hydrogen permeation and enable reliable, long-term operation. These barrier coatings will be based on GVDs novel thin film vapor deposition technology. In GVDs process an inorganic-organic multilayer barrier coatings are fabricated from the vapor-phase and is grown directly on the surface of the elastomer seal. The coating deposits uniformly and conformally over three-dimensional seals and gaskets. Further these coatings are highly flexible and stable at 200C. During Phase I, we will further develop the (1) chemical structure and process for depositing robust barrier coatings, and (2) carry-out feasibility studies to characterize the hydrogen permeability and hydrogen uptake of these coatings on elastomer materials used in dynamic sealing applications. Via stage gate screening testing we will downselect the most promising samples for advanced hydrogen permeability testing at extreme pressures (up to 1000 bar) and temperatures up to 200C. The most promising Phase I coating conditions will be selected for further development and scale-up in Phase II. The Phase II effort will include life-time performance testing of coated seals in dynamic compression conditions under cyclic high pressure and high temperature conditions. We will also optimize the process to minimize cycle time and begin scale-up of the technology in preparation for volume manufacturing. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: FCEVs have the potential to significantly reduce US dependence on foreign oil and lower harmful emissions that contribute to climate change. Successful commercialization of GVD barrier coatings for polymer seals will help improve reliability and reduce cost of hydrogen systems employed in FCEVs and their supporting infrastructure. GVD barrier-coated seals developed during this project may also be useful for equipment used in the oil and gas industry and for organic electronic devices such as organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs) and organic photovoltaics (OPVs).