Navy Technology Transfer Navy Technology Transfer


Adaptive and Configurable Heat Flow Calorimeter

Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division

Calorimeters are used to measure the heat of chemical reaction or physical changes as well as heat capacity. Batteries can be tested in calorimeters to determine the energy density and other characteristics. However, it is difficult to measure these high energy dense systems or to measure the characteristics of complex battery cell configurations such as multiple cells or oddly sized or shaped arrangements. Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division has developed an adaptive heat flow calorimeter that proves flexible and repairable testing capabilities for heat generating or absorbing systems such as energy storage systems. The calorimeter includes a temperature bath adapted to maintain a fluid bath at a predetermined temperature, a containment structure for inserting into the temperature bath, heat sinks, thermal sensor assemblies, an internal containment structure, and thermal barriers between different elements of the invention to isolate different sections from each other. The thermal sensor assemblies and heat sinks are removable so it is possible to measure the heat flow into or out of the containment structure’s different section without being altered by direct thermal contact with other inner sections. Other aspects of this calorimeters design that are an improvement over previous designs include: samples can be rapidly inserted and removed, ability to obtain separate thermal measurements for different section of the sample under test, and capability to insert or substitute components with different sized element to accommodate different types or sizes of samples.

Battery Charger and Power Reduction System and Method

Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division

Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division has patented a battery charger and power reduction system and method that is a shunt-type, lithium-ion battery charging device that is designed to reduce the likelihood of overcharging and the possible deleterious effects (and cooling requirements) that are associated with the heat generated during the charging process. The shunt-type charger controls the amount of power being used by the battery charger by monitoring the battery’s level of charging during the charging process and correspondingly reducing the magnitude of the charging current in response to the monitored level. The battery charger offers many advantages including decreased generation of heat, eliminated need for supplemental cooling components, flexibility to charge different types of lithium-ion batteries, as well as ones with differing states of charge, and precision of charging.

Battery Health Monitoring Method

Naval Research Laboratory

The Naval Research Laboratory has developed a diagnostic technique to identify and monitor the state-of-health (SOH) of lithium-ion batteries to improve safety and reduce the safety hazards associated with lithium-ion battery failures. The technique applies a small AC signal (current or voltage) to a battery over a specific frequency range, termed the SOH frequency, which is unique to a battery’s chemistry, size and form factor. The impedance response to the perturbation at the SOH frequency is invariant of the battery’s state-of-charge and can be applied online to provide real-time SOH monitoring. Advantages of the invention include: quick data collection and determination of state-of-health (eliminates collection of full impedance spectrum); can be applied online for real-time health monitoring, independent of battery state-of-charge; diagnostic works at the battery pack level, which eliminates the need for individual cell monitoring; single frequency measurement eliminates the need for complex and expensive electrical waveform generators; and it diagnoses fault after a single severe overcharge or repeated mild overcharges. Applications for the technology include monitoring Li-ion battery systems for real-time state-of-health determination and as a diagnostic tool for identifying overcharge abuse in lithium-ion batteries.

Benthic Microbial Fuel Cell

Naval Research Laboratory

The Naval Research Laboratory has developed the benthic microbial fuel cell (BMFC) which operates on the bottom of marine environments where it oxidizes organic matter residing in sediment with oxygen in overlying water. The BMFC is a maintenance free, non-depleting power supply suitable for a wide range of sensors presently powered by batteries. Unlike batteries, however, the BMFC will not deplete owing to a constant supply of its fuel and oxidant by environmental processes and constant rejuvenation of its microbial electrode catalysts. For this reason, the BMFC is an ideal power supply when uninterrupted long duration sensor operation is a must, and for hard to access sensors and high-density sensor arrays where the cost of battery replacement is high.

Benthic Microbial Fuel Cells

Naval Information Warfare Center Pacific (formerly Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific)

Naval Information Warfare Center Pacific (NIWC Pacific) has developed advanced prototypes of benthic microbial fuel cell (BMFC) technologies for use in underwater surveillance systems, communications systems, navigation systems, environmental monitoring systems, and general charging stations for underwater devices and vehicles. BMFCs are devices that generate persistent energy by coupling bioanodes and biocathodes through an external energy harvester. Three NIWC Pacific BMFC technologies capable of providing power to underwater sensors are: 1) a patent-pending shallow water surveillance system (also known as the linear array BMFC) that relies on an anode surrounding a buried cable system and harvests up to 1 W of power; 2) a patent-pending deep-water BMFC system that utilizes a roll-out surface anode to provide 100 mw of power; and 3) a 1m x 1m buried grid, with a low-profile sensor package and cathodes placed on a frame that extends in the water column by 1m, capable of producing 500mw of power. In addition to these technologies, NIWC Pacific has several other BMFC inventions available for licensing or further development.

Energy Harvesting from a Data Bus

Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division

This innovation allows for the harvesting of electrical energy from a data bus without interruption to the normal operation of that data bus. Energy harvesting is a key development in the deployment of self-sustaining systems. The technical issue of harvesting energy by “removing” bits from a data stream without the transmission system noticing that anything unusual was happening, other than normal transmission losses on the bus is an issue no one previously addressed. Key technical challenges included designing switching circuitry to enable the harvesting and circuitry to store the harvested energy for an embedded application. This technology affords the ability to harvest small amounts of electrical energy from a data bus for any purpose. This includes military and commercial applications in fields such as diagnostics and cybersecurity. Anyone interested in embedded applications that use very small amounts of harvested electrical energy from a data bus would be interested in this solution. This patented technology is available for licensing.

First High-Density Biofuels for Military Applications

Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, China Lake

Chemists at Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, China Lake (NAWCWD) have developed the highest density liquid renewable fuels ever created. These advanced fuels are applicable to missile, jet, ship, unmanned aerial vehicle, and ground vehicle propulsion – and all are derived exclusively from renewable/sustainable resources. Fuels developed at NAWCWD have energy densities up to 18% higher than conventional jet fuels and can be produced from biomass sources including forestry and agricultural waste. Biofuels Digest stated that China Lake’s “Molecules could revolutionize jet and missile fuel.” NAWCWD has an extensive biofuel portfolio with 36 issued patents and more pending. Research is currently focused on developing high-density cyclic fuels that can outperform petroleum-based fuels. These remarkable fuels have the potential to supplant significant quantities of petroleum, reduce the carbon footprint of the United States, decrease reliance on foreign oil, and improve the capability of the warfighter by increasing the range and payload of a variety of weapon platforms.

Light Activated Generator

Naval Postgraduate School

The Naval Postgraduate School has developed a light activated generator having a rotor driven by mechanical power induced by the effects of light impingement. The rotor utilizes a series of vanes rotatable around an axle, with each vane separated into a first surface and a second surface having differing emissivities. Additionally, each vane includes an electrical conductor. When the light activated generator is illuminated with a radiant flux, the differing emissivities of the first and second surfaces produce thermal creep force across the planar vanes to revolve each vane and the attached conductor through a magnetic field to generate a voltage across the conductor. In typical applications, the magnetic field is generated using a permanent magnet. The light activated generator has particular applicability as a micro-electro-mechanical system device.

Light Activated Rotor

Naval Postgraduate School

The Naval Postgraduate School has developed a mechanical rotor capable of generating rotary mechanical power by the effects of light impinging on the parallel surfaces of multiple vanes. The light activated rotor utilizes a number of vanes affixed to a hub rotatable around an axle, with the vanes typically in a perpendicular arrangement to the axle. Each vane is separated into a first surface and a second surface with the first and second surface generally side-by-side and sharing a common boundary. Additionally, the first and second surfaces have differing emissivities for incident, impinging light. When the light activated rotor is illuminated with a radiant flux, the differing emissivities of the first and second surfaces produce a temperature gradient across each vane and generates a thermal creep force on the vane, producing rotation of the hub and vanes and providing a rotary mechanical power. The rotary mechanical power can be transferred to other devices for use. The light activated rotor has particular applicability as a micro-electro-mechanical system device.

Thermal-Electric Barriers -- A New Energy Storage Solution

Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division

Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division seeks to commercialize, through patent licensing and a cooperative research and development agreement, a novel thermal-power generator that uses a combination of a reactive heat source and advanced thermoelectric materials to convert heat into electricity. The unit is a stand-alone, scalable power source that provides power on an as-needed basis. The lightweight, man-portable system contains a power conditioning subsystem to provide a constant voltage or a constant current to external loads.