News Release

NRL, SAFCell sign CRADA for exploration of new class of solid acid proton conductors

Business Announcement

Naval Research Laboratory


image: Borosulfates are a unique class of compounds that are formed when, under special conditions, borates and sulfates are "forced" to form new bonds and lose water in the process of making polymeric anionic chains. Borosulfates are a part the "solid acid" class of compounds that have been leveraged to develop Solid Acid Fuel Cells (SAFCs) by SAFCell, Inc., but are different in that the anions in borosulfates are bound together, producing a combination of attractive new properties. NRL has found that borosulfates that specifically exhibit one-dimentional anionic chains (as seen in the accompanying figure) have very special properties that produce a very low barrier to proton transport within the crystal in combination with relatively high thermal stability and good tolerance for both wet and dry conditions at target fuel cell operating temperature. This makes one-dimentional borosulfates, such as ammonium borosulfate, an attractive alternative to current state-of-the-art solid acid electrolytes. view more 

Credit: U.S. Naval Research Laboratory

WASHINGTON  –  SAFCell Inc. has signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the Department of the Navy's U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL).
CRADA is an agreement between a Federal laboratory and a non-Federal party to perform collaborative research and development in any area that is consistent with the Federal laboratory's mission.
Under the terms and within the scope of the agreement, SAFCell will provide expertise and guidance for the development and testing of a new class of borosulfate solid acid intermediate-temperature proton-conducting materials, and evaluate these experimental electrolytes in electrochemical cells.
"NRL has developed borosulfate proton electrolytes, which are expected to have significant advantages over other existing proton electrolyte technologies used in various electrochemical energy conversion devices,” said Holly Ricks-Laskoski, Ph.D., a Senior Partnership Manager in NRL’s Technology Transfer Office who is responsible for this CRADA. “This collaboration is expected to further develop fuel cells based upon NRL’s borosulfate technology to provide stable, compact, and robust sources of electrical power.”
Intermediate-temperature proton-conducting materials offer substantial advantages over other classes. Operating at mid-range temperatures around 250 degrees Celsius (482 degrees Fahrenheit), SAFCell’s stacks tolerate impurities that pose obstacles for other fuel cell technologies, while still using inexpensive metal components and flexible polymer seals.
This unique combination of properties results in a rugged and low-cost stack platform that operates easily on commercially available fuels.
"SAFCell is excited to work with NRL to develop electrochemical devices using NRL's borosulfate electrolytes,” SAFCell’s Chief Executive Officer, Calum Chisholm said. “These solid state proton conductors can operate at higher temperatures and without the hydration requirements of our current electrolytes, which equates to more versatile and lower cost solid acid systems.”
Chisholm, went onto say, SAFCell will, “apply their decades of experience working with solid acid electrolytes to accelerate the development of this new class of proton conductors into solid state fuel cells, hydrogen generators, and membrane reactors.” 
NRL partners with a wide variety of organizations including industry, academia and other government organizations to accelerate the development and transition of new and innovative technologies for the warfighter.
For those companies looking to work with NRL, Ricks-Laskoski, said, “NRL is open and we are looking forward to working with you.”
About the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory
NRL is a scientific and engineering command dedicated to research that drives innovative advances for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps from the seafloor to space and in the information domain. NRL is located in Washington, D.C. with major field sites in Stennis Space Center, Mississippi; Key West, Florida; Monterey, California, and employs approximately 3,000 civilian scientists, engineers and support personnel.
About SAFCell Inc.
SAFCell Inc., is comprised of a focused group of business, engineering, and scientific professionals commercializing a transformative energy technology. SAFCell develops solid acid fuel cell and hydrogen stacks for portable, stationary and mobile applications, all running on commercially available liquid fuels. SAFCell's technology permits on-site generation of electricity or compressed hydrogen from all leading renewable liquid hydrogen carriers (LHCs) in one efficient and low-cost step — unlocking green hydrogen's potential to replace hydrocarbons in energy sectors worldwide.
For more information, contact NRL Corporate Communications at (202) 480-3746 or

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