A Metal Hydride Power Source for HALE Aircraft Propulsion

Period of Performance: 03/02/2009 - 10/31/2009

$99K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Eltron Research, Inc.
4600 Nautilus Court South
Boulder, CO 80301
Principal Investigator

Abstract

High altitude long endurance (HALE) aircraft encounter thin atmosphere, low temperatures, long missions, and long periods of storage, all within strict weight limitations. Power sources are correspondingly unconventional. DARPA has identified metal hydrides as preferred energy storage materials for this application. The proposed SBIR Phase I program addresses development of metal hydride materials for energy storage in HALE power sources. The approach will use the materials to supply an electrochemical cell that possesses both storage and conversion features. The hybrid technology would use a packaged metal hydride acting concomitantly as a fuel supply and as the anode of a battery. With this configuration, it will be possible to obtain requisite power and energy while minimizing system size, polarization losses, and overall weight. The metal hydrides will be incorporated into a nanostructured support, which will help decompose the metal hydride and provide a conductive matrix to act as the battery anode. Phase I will consist of preparing and characterizing metal hydrides, testing the fuels under conditions of the power source to be designed, and overall concept design. Phase II will result in optimization of the process chosen and the design, fabrication, and operation of a prototype power source for HALE applications.