Redox Tolerant Cathode for Solid Oxide Electrolysis Stacks

Award Information
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Branch: N/A
Contract: 80NSSC18P1940
Agency Tracking Number: 185243
Amount: $118,641.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: H1
Solicitation Number: SBIR_18_P1
Solicitation Year: 2018
Award Year: 2018
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2018-07-27
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2019-02-15
Small Business Information
257 River Bend Way, #300, North Salt Lake, UT, 84054-0000
DUNS: 080861442
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 S Elango Elangovan
 (801) 677-3002
Business Contact
 Lyman Frost
Title: CEO
Phone: (801) 677-3001
Research Institution

OxEon Energy proposes a combination of materials and engineering solutions to demonstrate the reduction-oxidation (redox) stability of a solid oxide electrolysis cathode during start up and operation. The redox tolerant cathode material will reduce system complexity, tolerate flow upset conditions, and provide flexibility in space based systems without a man-in-the-loop.

Solid oxide electrolysis stacks use nickel – zirconia composite cathode to reduce incoming oxidized species such as those available on Mars (e.g. carbon dioxide) to produce high purity oxygen.  The device can also operate on co-electrolysis mode where the atmosphere CO2 and water and other volatiles from extra-terrestrial soils can be processed together to produce oxygen and fuels such as methane for propulsion, regenerative power, and life support system applications. Present state of the art electrolysis stacks use a nickel-zirconia composite cathode. Nickel based electrodes are susceptible to oxidation by the feed gas (CO2 or steam) at the inlet conditions unless reduced species (carbon monoxide or hydrogen) are also present. This necessitates a complex, recycle loop that introduces a fraction of the product gases to the inlet.

Prior attempts at developing an oxidation resistant cathode evaluated precious metal or ceramic oxides. They exhibited excellent stability in CO2 and steam, but the performance of cells was significantly lower relative to nickel based electrode.

The proposed cathode material is expected to be stable in an oxidizing environment with little or no deleterious oxidation. This will allow a significant simplicity in electrolysis system design, facilitate the utilization of in situ resources to produce oxygen and fuels, resulting in the development of an enabling technology for future manned mission to Mars.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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