Contact Us
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Membranes and Materials for Energy Efficiency

Please Note that a Letter of Intent is due Tuesday, September 08, 2015 5:00pm ET Program Area Overview Office of Basic Energy SciencesThe Office of Basic Energy Sciences (BES) supports fundamental research to understand, predict, and ultimately control matter and energy at the electronic, atomic, and molecular levels in order to provide the foundations for new energy technologies and to support DOE missions in energy, environment, and national security.  The results of BES_supported research are routinely published in the open literature. A key function of the program is to plan, construct, and operate premier scientific user facilities for the development of novel nanomaterials and for materials characterization through x_ray and neutron scattering; the former is accomplished through five Nanoscale Science Research Centers and the latter is accomplished through the world’s largest suite of light source and neutron scattering facilities.  These national resources are available free of charge to all researchers based on the quality and importance of proposed nonproprietary experiments. A major objective of the BES program is to promote the transfer of the results of our basic research to advance and create technologies important to Department of Energy (DOE) missions in areas of energy efficiency, renewable energy resources, improved use of fossil fuels, the mitigation of the adverse impacts of energy production and use, and future nuclear energy sources.  The following set of technical topics represents one important mechanism by which the BES program augments its system of university and laboratory research programs and integrates basic science, applied research, and development activities within the DOE.  For additional information regarding the Office of Basic Energy Sciences priorities, click here. TOPIC 12. Membranes and Materials for Energy Efficiency   Maximum Phase I Award Amount:  $150,000 Maximum Phase II Award Amount:  $1,000,000 Accepting SBIR Phase I Applications:  YES Accepting SBIR Fast_Track Applications:  NO Accepting STTR Phase I Applications:  YES Accepting STTR Fast_Track Applications:  NO  Separation technologies recover, isolate, and purify products in virtually every industrial process. Using membranes rather than conventional energy intensive technologies for separations could dramatically reduce energy use and costs in key industrial processes [1]. Separation processes represent 40 to 70 percent of both capital and operating costs in industry. They also account for 45 percent of all the process energy used by the chemical and petroleum refining industries every year. In response the Department of Energy supports the development of high_risk, innovative membrane separation technologies and related materials. Many challenges must be overcome before membrane technology becomes more widely adopted. Technical barriers include fouling, instability, low flux, low separation factors, and poor durability. Advancements are needed that will lead to new generations of organic, inorganic, and ceramic membranes. These membranes require greater thermal and chemical stability, greater reliability, improved fouling and corrosion resistance, and higher selectivity leading to better performance in existing industrial applications, as well as opportunities for new applications. Materials for energy efficiency include both organic and inorganic types. Their applications can be for supporting structures, such as durable sealing materials to increase reliability of hydrogen storage or for electronics substrates.  They also include materials that are key to highly pure hydrogen. Finally, conductor materials that promise 50% or more improvement in energy efficiency are examined.  Grant applications are sought in the following subtopics:   a. High Selectivity Membranes  This subtopic is focused on the advancement of manufacturing processes that are able to produce membranes with exceptional selectivity for separations.    High performance membranes offer the potential to provide game_changing process energy advances.  Specifically we are interested in chemical separations, desalination, and gas separations.  Of greatest interest are methods that employ strong, thin membranes (e.g., covalently bonded, one_molecule_thick structures) for high permeance, with atomically precise pores for high selectivity.  In desalination, a rate increase of 2_3 orders of magnitude over reverse osmosis is projected for a system with not only controlled pore size but also engineered pore edge composition [1].  In principle, a series of membranes of sufficient selectivity could separate air into its raw components of N2, O2, Ar, CO2, Ne, He, etc.  for significant energy savings in a wide range of chemical and combustion processes [2, 3], and for greenhouse gas reduction.    We seek grant applications to advance scalable technologies that provide order_of_magnitude increments over the performance of current industrial separation processes.  The focus of the application must be on significant improvements in uniformity of pore size distribution and composition for near 100% selectivity.  Consideration should be given to addressing the other barriers cited in this topic:  fouling, instability, flux, durability, and cost.  The choice of membrane material should be appropriate to the target separation in a commercial setting.  Target separations with high energy impact are preferred.  As a deliverable, a minimum of 50% energy savings over separations in current commercial practice shall be demonstrated through the manufacture of exemplar parts or materials, with sufficient experimental measurements and supporting calculations to show that cost_competitive energy savings can be achieved with practical economies of scale.  The application should provide a path to scale up in potential Phase II follow on work.  Questions ? Contact: David Forrest, david.forrest@hq.doe.gov b. High Performance Conductors  This subtopic is focused on methods to enhance the thermal and electrical conductivity of commercial metals.    Electrical and thermal conductivity are thermophysical properties of metals that play key roles in the energy efficiency in many applications.  In general, we seek to increase both properties but are limited by competing material requirements such as strength and oxidation resistance.  High electrical conductivity, strong aluminum would address transmission losses (0.2_0.4 quads) and reduce total ownership costs in high voltage power transmission lines.  High electrical conductivity aluminum could replace copper for wiring and motor lightweighting in certain aircraft and automotive systems.  High conductivity copper could improve the efficiency of electric motors and reduce the weight of aircraft and automobiles.  Improving the thermal conductivity of steels and superalloys would improve the efficiency of high temperature processes (including power generation) through high performance heat exchangers, and would reduce material requirements.   There are several new approaches, which have seen mixed degrees of technical success but no significant commercial inroads due to cost or scalability:  multifunctional metal/polymer composites, nanocarbon infusion processes, severe plastic deformation of aluminum, and metal matrix composites.  Specific challenges include establishing a quality interface between the metal and high conductivity material (such as carbon nanotubes) in metal matrix composites, and minimizing defects that reduce conductivity in the highly conductive material [1_4].        We seek grant applications to advance scalable technologies that provide at least a 50% increment over the performance of commercial metal conductors.  The improvement can be in electrical conductivity or thermal conductivity either on a volumetric or weight basis.  The choice of metallurgical system should be appropriate to the target component in a commercial setting.  Consideration should be given to addressing all aspects of the materials design at the system level (cost, corrosion and oxidation resistance, joining and fabrication procedures, strength, fatigue, hardness, ductility).  Industrial uses of the enhanced conductors that will result in high energy impact are preferred.  As a deliverable, a minimum of 50% energy savings in service over current commercial practice shall be demonstrated through the manufacture of exemplar components or materials, with sufficient experimental measurements and supporting calculations to show that cost_competitive energy savings can be achieved with practical economies of scale.  The application should provide a path to scale up in potential Phase II follow on work.   Questions ? Contact: David Forrest, david.forrest@hq.doe.gov c. Fuel Cell Membranes Polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cells are a leading candidate to power zero emission vehicles, with several major automakers already in the early stages of commercializing fuel cell vehicles powered by PEM fuel cells.  PEM fuel cells are also of interest for stationary power applications, including primary power, backup power, and combined heat and power.  Commercial PEM technology typically is based on perfluorosulfonic acid ionomers, but these ionomer materials are expensive, particularly at the low volumes that will be needed for initial commercialization.  Non_PFSA PEMs, including those based on hydrocarbon membranes, represent a lower_cost alternative, but relatively low performance and durability has limited non_PFSA PEM applications to date. Development of novel hydrocarbon ionomers and PEMs suitable for application in PEM fuel cells is solicited through this subtopic.  Novel PEMs developed through this subtopic should have properties and characteristics required for application in PEM fuel cells, including: ?        High proton conductivity in a range of temperature and humidity conditions ?        Good film forming properties enabling formation of thin (<10 _m) uniform membranes _Low swelling and low solubility in liquid water ?        Low creep under a range of stress, temperature, and humidity conditions ?        Low permeability to gases including H2, O2, and N2 ?        Chemical and mechanical durability sufficient to pass the accelerated stress tests in the Fuel Cell Tech Team Roadmap [1]  The goal of any proposed work under this subtopic should be to produce a PEM that can meet all of the technical targets in the table below. PEM technology proposed for this subtopic should be based on proton_conducting non_perfluorinated ionomers, but may include reinforcements or other additives.  Membrane samples should be tested at an independent laboratory at the end of each phase.  Phase 1 should include measurement of chemical and physical properties to demonstrate feasibility of meeting the targets below related to these parameters, while Phase 2 addresses long term durability and development of manufacturing processes to meet the cost targets.                                     Technical Targets: Fuel Cell Membranes for Transportation Applications [2]  Characteristic Units  Target 2020 Maximum operating temperature ?C 120 Area specific proton resistance at:     Maximum operating temp and water partial pressures from 40 to 80 kPa Ohm cm2 _ 0.02 80?C and water partial pressures from 25 _ 45 kPa Ohm cm2 _ 0.02 30?C and water partial pressures up to 4 kPa Ohm cm2 _ 0.03 _20?C  Ohm cm2 _ 0.2 Maximum Oxygen cross_over mA / cm2 2 Maximum Hydrogen cross_over  mA / cm2 2 Minimum electrical resistance  ohm cm2 1000 Cost  $ / m2 _ 20 Durability      Mechanical Cycles w/ < 2 mA/cm2 crossover  _ 20,000 Chemical Hours > 500  Questions ? Contact: Donna Ho Donna.Ho@ee.doe.gov or Dimitrios Papageorgopoulos Dimitrios.Papageorgopoulos@ee.doe.gov  d. Other  In addition to the specific subtopics listed above, the Department solicits applications in other areas that fall within the specific scope of the topic description above.             Questions ? Contact: David Forrest, david.forrest@hq.doe.gov

Contact Us
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.