Fluidized Bed Production of Surface Functionalized Powders for Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Cathodes

Period of Performance: 02/17/2015 - 11/16/2015


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Structured Materials Industries
201 Circle Drive North Unit # 102
Piscataway, NJ 08854
Firm POC
Principal Investigator


The use of surface functionalized powders can improve both performance and economy of solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC). With this approach, the best characteristics of two different materials can be fully exploited, such as the excellent conductivity of the backbone oxide and the excellent stability and catalytic activity of the surface layer. Previous efforts to produce surface functionalized powders using segregation or infiltration processes were unreliable and difficult to implement in large scale. Statement of How this Problem or Situation is being Addressed: This SBIR project will demonstrate an alternative approach to produce surface functionalized powders based on fluidized bed technology. Fluidized bed processing is a well established technique, which is used in a variety of commercial applications. Structured Materials Industries (SMI) has developed a variation on this technology, known as Fluidized Bed Chemical Vapor Deposition (FBCVD). SMI is presently implementing and commercializing FBCVD technology as a scalable and economical process to deposit surface coatings on powder materials in large scale. What is to be Done in Phase I: In Phase I of this SBIR program, SMI will use existing capabilities to produce trial quantities of powders with a variety of coating thickness and compositions. SMI will partner with FuelCell Energy, Inc. (FCE) in this SBIR program. FCE will process SMI's surface functionalized powders into cathode materials, and fabricate small scale fuel cell stacks for testing. The deliverables for Phase I will include the demonstrated feasibility of using FBCVD to produce surface functionalized powders for SOFC cathode materials, and an assessment of the technical and economical benefits for fuel cell implementation. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: Fuel cells offer the potential for nearly a two fold increase in the efficiency of converting fossil fuels to useable electrical energy. In addition, fuel cells produce far fewer pollutants such as NOx, compared to conventional technologies for utilizing fossil fuels. The development of reliable and efficient fuel cells will reduce emission of green house gases and other pollutants, reduce consumption of fossil fuels, and reduce US dependence on imported oil. Key Words: SBIR Phase I, solid oxide fuel cells, cathodes, surface functionalized powders, fluidized beds, thin films, chemical vapor deposition Summary for Members of Congress: The successful conclusion of this SBIR program will result in fuel cells with greater efficiency, improved reliability and lower manufacturing costs. Reliable and economical fuel cells will provide nearly a two fold increase in the efficiency of converting fossil fuels to electrical energy, with a corresponding decrease in emission of pollutants and green house gases.