Early production stage hydrogen generation company AlumiFuel Power, Inc. ("API"), the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based wholly owned operating subsidiary of AlumiFuel Power Corporation, announced today that its hydrogen generation technology has been selected for award of a U.S. Navy R&D contract as a novel new hydrogen source for powering future Unmanned Undersea Vehicles (UUVs).
API is part of a team headed by Ingenium Technologies, Inc. ("Ingenium") that was selected for a Phase I award under the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program. The proposal submitted by Ingenium, a Rockford, Illinois-based defense systems integrator, was in response to an STTR solicitation issued by the U.S. Department of the Navy. In this solicitation, the Navy is seeking a novel hydrogen source to power air independent fuel cells for future UUV missions, which is one of API's primary target applications. The Phase I research will focus on developing a refuelable hydrogen generating system using solid fuel cartridges (similar to those developed and used by API for other applications) and to demonstrate the continuous delivery of fuel-cell grade hydrogen for eight hours.
The solicitation described the Navy's requirement as follows: "Underwater vehicles will serve as key elements in the integrated operations of future surface ships and submarines, providing a range of support functions including autonomous surveillance, mine counter measures, and Special Forces transport. However, current power sources for these vehicles (rechargeable silver-zinc batteries or high-energy primary batteries) do not meet the energy requirements for future missions, or they impose a tremendous logistics burden on the host vessel. Fuel cells offer a viable option for meeting mission energy requirements, and at the same time, they can reduce the host vessel logistics burden if the fuel and oxidizer can be stored in a high energy density format."
As the prime contractor, Ingenium will develop the overall system design, with API's hydrogen generation technology as the key fuel source component of the proposed design. In addition to subcontracting power source tasks to API, Ingenium will use Drexel University as its research institution partner. Drexel was included in the proposal because of the relevant AlumiFuel powder research that API conducts at the Drexel Nanotechnology Institute, and the world-class microscopy equipment, facilities and technical personnel at the Institute will add significant contributions to the development effort.
Phase I awards typically are $70,000 for seven months, with a 3-month $30,000 option. The intended project and funding start date is July 1, 2010. Following the successful completion of Phase I R&D, the Ingenium-led STTR team will apply for Phase II funding, which normally entails an award of up to $750,000 and moves the project closer to commercialization. Awards of up to $5 million are typical for Phase III funding, which would result in integration of the technology into different host platforms for subsequent procurement by the Navy.
API has been involved with selected defense contractors in the design of novel energy generators to power U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and commercial UUVs and submersibles for over two years (see API news releases of March 16, 2010 and March 2, 2010). This design work has involved the generation of superheated steam as well as hydrogen.
The API UUV hydrogen generator is based on the same powerful chemical reaction currently used in the PBIS-1000 hydrogen generator used to fill weather balloons (see API news release of April 6, 2010). In this UUV application, however, the hydrogen would be used to power a fuel cell. API's hydrogen generator has already demonstrated the start and stop capabilities of the system, similar to the steam generator.
API's President & CEO, Mr. David Cade, stated: "We are very excited to participate in the development of a UUV power system for the Navy that uses our hydrogen generation technology, which we see as the first step towards development and commercialization of our multiple power source approach for UUVs. This award has given us a wonderful opportunity to take the first step in fielding a novel power source that will offer substantial benefits compared to existing technologies. We are confident that through the combined efforts of the Ingenium team, we will be able to successfully develop and deliver such a power source, which would enhance the Navy's war fighting capabilities."