Sandia LabNews

Sandia signs energy CRADA with Sharp Corporation


Sandia and Sharp Corporation have signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) to work together in research and development of renewable and alternative energy technologies.

Jeff Nelson (6218), manager of the CRADA, says the agreement is one of Sharp’s first interactions with a US laboratory.

Jeff says Sandia brings novel membrane and catalyst capabilities to the fuel cell project while Sharp brings extensive system and application-level experience.

“Our hope is that we’re successful and that success could expand our collaboration into solar photovoltaics and other areas,” he says.

The broader partnership between Sandia and Sharp will focus on energy technologies, specifically photovoltaics and fuel cells. It will involve research and development of Sharp’s solar photovoltaic technologies, including tests and improvements on reliability, durability, calibration of solar modules, inverters, and other advanced applications.

Sharp is the largest producer of solar photovoltaic modules in the world.

Chris Cornelius (6245), principal investigator for the CRADA, says Sandia will work with Sharp on the development of technologies for direct methanol fuel cells.

“Our research team and Sharp Corporation will bring together our materials and engineering skills to develop technologies that will impact methanol-based fuel cells,” Chris says.

“Sandia can apply its extensive materials capabilities to help Sharp bring new products to the market, and Sharp with its extensive electronics and manufacturing expertise will assure the development of commercial mobile power technology that is important for many applications, including portable power and distributed sensor networks,” Jeff says.

Sandia’s immediate focus is on portable power applications, such as the use of direct methanol fuel cells to power consumer electronics like laptops, cell phones, and PDAs.

Sharp has asked Sandia to fabricate fuel cells using Sandia’s proprietary membranes and catalysts. Members of Depts. 6245, 1823, and 1815, along with researcher Akimasa Umemoto from Sharp, have begun designing the materials and membrane electrode assemblies for Sharp’s specific application target. They will fabricate and test the fuel cells during the 12- to 18- month project under conditions relevant for Sharp’s applications.

The Sandia research team members for this project are Cy Fujimoto, Mike Hickner (both 6245), Bill Steen (1823), Eric Coker (1815), and Chris Apbeltt (1723).

Jeff acknowledged the assistance of Sandia’s technology transfer group in developing the CRADA, including Gary Jones, Vic Weiss, and Sherry Anderson.

“Gary and his team were instrumental in helping us navigate through many of the challenging issues associated with putting together a CRADA with a non-US company,” Jeff says.