Ruggedized PEM Electrolysis Hydrogen Generator for PEPSAE Recharge

Period of Performance: 10/14/2011 - 07/14/2012


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Proton Energy Systems
10 Technology Drive Array
Wallingford, CT 06492
Principal Investigator


ABSTRACT: In this proposal, a ruggedized proton exchange membrane (PEM) hydrogen generator based on Proton s current laboratory products is proposed as a portable recharger for metal hydride storage canisters. The PEM technology enables simplicity in the fuel logistics stream for support Aeromedical Evacuation missions and similar forward operating scenarios. In addition, the PEM cells can be operated at differential pressure, eliminating the need for high pressure oxygen and providing significantly improved safety in the design. In Phase 1, Proton will leverage existing cell design capability in a variety of stack active areas, number of cells per stack, and output pressure to modify existing stack hardware for this application in order to demonstrate feasibility of meeting the requirements. In parallel, the system design will be analyzed for component robustness under the specific conditions of vibration, tilt, and other variables specified by the sponsor. The design will be ruggedized to meet shock, vibration, thermal, and other operational, transportation, and storage requirements. Components will also be analyzed for weight reduction or maintenance in order to balance any weight added to meet these requirements. BENEFIT: This project will contribute to Proton s technology portfolio and commercialization pipeline in two key areas. First, Proton has fabricated near-commercial versions of an electrolysis product designed to interface with renewable power sources. This project offers the potential to further develop this capability and adapt it to other applications for renewable energy storage. We anticipate that the controls algorithms and power conversion architecture will scale well to support larger electrolyzer systems, and will therefore provide value to energy storage needs in the range of kWhr to MWhr. Secondly, the development of this small scale hydride recharging device has applicability to commercial applications for fuel cells as well. Proton has had discussions with several fuel cell companies who are developing portable power solutions offering metal hydride storage options. In each case, there was a perceived need for an inexpensive small scale recharging solution. Based on these initial discussions, we feel that Proton can offer the best combination of pressure, purity, and fill rate for metal hydrides with its PEM based electrolyzer solution. The electrolyzer system developed in Phases I and II of this program would provide a functional platform for a commercial variant that can be marketed to fuel cell providers that want to offer their customers a simple hydride recharge device as a companion accessory.