Advanced Manufacturing Techniques for High-Efficiency Functional Gradient Solid Oxide Fuel Cells
Small Business Information
Optomec Design Company
3911 Singer NE, Albuquerque, NM, 87109
AbstractSolid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFCs) combine fuel and air electrochemically to produce clean, high quality electric power and offer significantly reduced fuel consumption rates relative to heavy fuel engines or diesel power generators. Over the past 2 years, Optomec has worked closely with AFRL and Wright State University to apply its patented Aerosol Jet printing solution to the manufacture of such SOFCs. Using material mixing capabilities unique to Aerosol Jet printing, it is possible increase SOFC power density by functionally grading the active area of the fuel cell. This enables smaller, more efficient fuel cell-based power systems. In addition, the Aerosol Jet approach provides a robust, highly repeatable, and material-efficient manufacturing process that has the potential to reduce fuel cell production costs. These capabilities have been demonstrated with the current entry-level generation of Aerosol Jet hardware, including a prototype capability for mixing multiple materials during deposition to enable the fabrication of functionally graded fuel cells. The objective of this project is to significantly scale-up the Aerosol Jet equipment capabiltiies to allow for cost-effective commercial production of large area SOFCs and other energy-related devices. BENEFITS: Improving the economics of renewable energy technologies like fuel cells and solar cells is critical to a number of key national security and public interests, such as: - reducing our dependence on foreign oil - preserving the environment - creating new jobs The most significant direct benefit derived from this Research & Development activity will be to advance the adoption of fuel cell technology by improving the fundamental economics in terms of cost for a given amount of power output. This will be achieved by attacking the problem from both sides, as the novel manufacturing technology developed under this proposal has the promise of simultaneously improving baseline fuel cell efficiencies and reducing fuel cell production costs. Indirectly, success in the proposal objectives will have spillover benefits for the manufacturing of high efficiency, low cost solar cells and other energy related devices, including low power consumption consumer electronics. Finally, the technology being developed is itself inherently "Clean Tech: and fundamentally resource and energy efficient. As compared to conventional manufacturing techniques that are often subtractive in nature and/or require high temperature, vacuum or chemical processing, Aerosol Jet has high material utilization rates, lower energy consumption and limited requirement for dangerous chemicals.
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