High Altitude Airship Rechargeable MEMS Fuel Cell

Period of Performance: 06/10/2004 - 12/10/2004


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Systems & Processes Engineering Corp
7050 Burleson Road
Austin , TX 78744
Principal Investigator


SPEC offers lightweight, compact MEMS fuel cell for regenerative energy storage applications in HAA station keeping and operation above 65,000 feet MSL. More than one modular 10 KW unit is envisioned for the HAA. Modular unit provides 10KW at high efficiency, 60 KW peak in fuel cell mode, and absorbs 14 KW at high efficiency , 100 KW peak operation in electrolyzer mode. Innovative MEMS fuel cell backing plate approach gives stack sizes 10x smaller (210 Y/cell) than traditional PEM fuel cells allowing proportional savings in weight per cell area. Lightweight per cell area supports optimal system weight savings (5 to 10x the fuel cell weight) through increased operational efficiency (area) trades for solar panel and fuel weight. Precision MEMS approach allows precise liquid/air interface control giving PEM hydration control in both fuel cell and electrolyzer modes for maximum efficiency and power output. Precise liquid/air interface and distribution eliminates auxiliary equipment and control systems. Integral nanotube catalyst support, grown on MEMS plates, gives minimal heat and electrical impedance, maximizing power output capability and efficiency. MEMS backing plates replace the flow field plate, gas diffusion layer and catalyst support with precision micro feature control and high producability of semiconductor processing.