Distributed Energy Awarded Phase II SBIR Fuel Cell Contract

September 22, 2004 by Jeff Shepard

Distributed Energy Systems Corp. (Wallingford, CT) has been awarded a Small Business Innovative Research Phase II contract from the US Army Missile Defense Agency (MDA) to continue development of lightweight regenerative fuel cell technology for high-altitude airships. The goal of the two-year, $750,000 contract is to demonstrate a multikilowatt-capable, closed-loop, hydrogen-oxygen regenerative fuel cell, and is a continuation of work completed in Phase I of the project.

The regenerative fuel cell can generate pressurized hydrogen and oxygen electrochemically, without mechanical compression. The Army MDA plans to apply this technology for energy storage for high-altitude airships, which will be used as platforms for sensors and communications vital for missile defense and homeland security.

The Phase I contract, completed in April 2004, demonstrated key lightweight components for electrochemical cells. The contract is part of an MDA program to develop a lighter-than-air, high-altitude airship advanced concept technology demonstration prototype. The program goal is to show the engineering feasibility and potential military utility of an unmanned, untethered, gas-filled, solar-powered airship with the potential to fly at 70,000 ft and self-deploy from the continental US to worldwide locations.