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IUPUI-based engineering startup receives $225,000 NSF grant to improve hydrogen fuel storage

January 10, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS -- A startup based on work conducted at the School of Engineering and Technology at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis has received a federal grant to develop a system that could affect how solid-state hydrogen fuel is stored.

Peter Schubert, professor of electrical and computer engineering and director of the Richard G. Lugar Center for Renewable Energy, founded Green Fortress Engineering Inc. The company has received a one-year STTR Phase I grant of $225,000 from the National Science Foundation to develop its storage technology. The award includes IUPUI as a subcontractor, and the School of Engineering and Technology will perform the deep technical research.

Schubert said hydrogen is a clean fuel that can be produced from water or biomass. When it is converted to electricity, the only other product is water vapor.

"Renewable hydrogen as an energy vector is the key to reducing carbon and methane emissions, minimizing extraction impacts, and providing energy self-reliance," he said.

Schubert said traditional methods to store hydrogen have significant drawbacks.

"They store hydrogen as a compressed gas or as ultra-cold, cryogenic liquids, both of which are inefficient energy sources. The high pressures used to compress gas pose a mechanical risk, and cryogenic liquids boil off even with the best insulation," he said. "Green Fortress Engineering has developed a solid-state solution that allows the full benefits of a hydrogen economy without the disadvantages of traditional methods."

Schubert said the NSF grant will allow Green Fortress Engineering to achieve two goals.

"First, we will perform the first gaseous recharge of a solid-state hydrogen storage media, which will serve as validation of the theoretical work leading up to the grant," he said. "We will also explore the pathway to lower-cost starting materials, including polycrystalline silicon and metallurgical-grade silicon. Using these less-expensive materials could make solid-state hydrogen storage available to every economic market."

Schubert said receiving the NSF grant is prestigious recognition for Green Fortress Engineering.

"National Science Foundation awards are highly competitive," he said. "A panel of expert reviewers provides recommendations to the program director for funding of transformative research with the potential for significant benefits to society.

"The Green Fortress Engineering team is delighted to have been selected for an award and is eager to demonstrate this technology, leading to commercialization and realizing those benefits, creating jobs and doing good for the environment."

Schubert disclosed the technology to the Indiana University Research and Technology Corp., which protects, markets and licenses intellectual property developed at Indiana University so it can be commercialized by industry. IURTC licensed the technology to Green Fortress Engineering, which was launched in the 2015-16 fiscal year as a member of IURTC's Spin Up entrepreneurial program.
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About Indiana University Research and Technology Corp.

IURTC is a not-for-profit corporation tasked with the protecting and commercializing of technology emanating from innovations by IU researchers. Since 1997, IU research has generated more than 2,700 inventions resulting in more than 4,100 global patent applications being filed by IURTC. These discoveries have generated more than $135 million in licensing and royalty income, including more than $112 million in funding for IU departments, labs and inventors.

Indiana University

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