Acumentrics Corp. has received Phase II funding from the US Dept. of Energy (DOE) to develop optimized manufacturing techniques and build pre-commercial prototypes of a hybrid ceramic-metallic heat exchanger for solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs).
SBIR Supports Hybrid Ceramic-Metal SOFC Heat Exchanger Development
WESTWOOD, MA, October 11, 2007 -- Acumentrics Corporation has received Phase II funding from the US Department of Energy (DOE) to develop optimized manufacturing techniques and to build pre-commercial prototypes of a hybrid ceramic-metallic heat exchanger for solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs).
The new two-year Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) funding follows Phase I design and testing work done by Acumentrics that combined high-temperature ceramics and low-temperature, lower-cost metallic elements in a single SOFC heat exchanger. The Phase I research demonstrated that, with this hybrid approach, a SOFC heat exchanger can achieve the 80% effectiveness and reduced manufacturing cost needed for commercial viability. Previously, expensive high-alloy metals had been required for the 800 to 1000 degrees Celsius internal operating temperatures of SOFCs.
"Massachusetts small firms, like Acumentrics, are leading the country in developing solutions to address one of the most pressing issues facing our country - energy independence. Highly competitive SBIR awards make critical public funding available to the next generation of innovative ideas," said Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. "Firms like Acumentrics prove that we should be investing more in small firms to keep the U.S. competitive because they are nimble and able to move us closer to a long-term affordable, reliable, clean energy source."
SOFCs are one of the most efficient, cleanest power generating systems currently being developed, producing power electrochemically using solid-state ceramic cells. SOFCs are highly fuel-flexible, and can operate on available fossil fuels including natural gas, propane, methane and diesel fuel, as well as ethanol and biogas. Because no combustion is involved, SOFCs produce virtually no emissions.
In the Acumentrics SOFC system, the heat exchanger, or recuperator, ensures the incoming cathode air is sufficiently preheated by the exhaust flow so that optimum generator temperatures are maintained, permitting ion mobility within the cells to generate electricity.
"Successful completion of this phase will enable us to reach new levels of cost and performance efficiency in residential combined heat and power (CHP) systems, in portable power generators, auxiliary power units for transportation and military applications, and for telecom stations needing uninterruptible power supply," said Acumentrics CEO Gary Simon. "This work will also be valuable in setting up production lines and methods, and in evaluating scale-up for DOE FutureGen program applications."
"This technology development moves Acumentrics closer to the commercialization of a low-cost, reliable, efficient and clean solid oxide fuel cell power generating system," Simon said.
Westwood, Massachusetts-based Acumentrics' unique, durable, fuel-flexible tubular ceramics-based fuel cell technology has exceeded performance standards in U.S. Department of Energy Solid-State Energy Conversion Alliance (SECA) Phase I tests, demonstrated the ability to operate for 1300-hours on synthetic JP-8 fuel, become the first biogas-fueled SOFC system in an installation at the innovative GlashusEtt environmental information center in Stockholm, and received a 2007 New England Innovation Award from the Smaller Business Association of New England. Acumentrics also sells rugged, uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) to the military and other mission-critical markets.
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