InteliSpark client Ecolectro, Inc. has been awarded a Phase I Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) grant worth $225,000 from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The grant is for the SBIR project “Ultrathin Polymer Electrolyte Composites with Exceptional Conductivity, Mechanical Strength and Chemical Durability.” The goal of the SBIR project is to produce polymer composites that enable commercialization of alkaline electrochemical devices, such fuel cells and electrolyzers.
The use of fuel cell technologies will help preserve the environment, mitigate climate change, decreasing our carbon footprint and securing renewable energy supply. Electrolyzers are an increasingly attractive method of producing ultrapure hydrogen, an essential chemical feedstock and fuel.
Currently, widespread adoption of these technologies is prevented by the high system costs, which are driven by the platinum catalysts. Alkaline exchange membranes (AEMs) will be less expensive to produce and recyclable at the end of lifetime, unlike the existing polymer electrolytes, further decreasing the cost of devices. Producing commercially viable AEMs enables the widespread deployment of fuel cell and electrolyzer systems by making the technology economically competitive with incumbent fossil fuel based energy sources.
This SBIR Phase I project proposes to produce polymer electrolyte composites that meet the stringent performance criteria for a commercially viable AEM, including durability, hydroxide conductivity and mechanical strength under alkaline operating conditions. The combination of our unique polymer composition and a structural support that maximizes conductivity without losing mechanical strength, is a crucial milestone for the commercialization of our technology.