Research Project Information

Research Project Summary Information

Fuel Cell Compressor(ST8809-1)

Mohawk Innovative Technology, Inc.


Mohawk Innovative Technology, Inc. (MiTi) is a ten-year old product and R&D company specializing in integrating advanced oil-free foil bearings and seals into high speed rotating machinery, such as gas turbines, turbochargers, compressors, pumps and other systems with speed and temperature requirements that exceed the capabilities of rolling element bearings. Successful commercialization of fuel cell vehicles will require improved air handling systems, and specifically compressor/expander systems. DOE is funding major efforts in this area but has fallen short in attempts to design an efficient, cost effective, compact device. MiTi’s bearings are an enabling technology to accomplish this objective, and a major automotive industry partner has expressed interest in using MiTi’s bearings in its compressor/expander design, to support one of the major automotive partnerships currently pursuing fuel cell vehicle development and commercialization.

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Project Description

MiTi’s development program is aimed at establishing the feasibility of its high speed foil bearings for a major automotive OEM fuel cell compressor. Tasks include rotor-bearing design, performance testing with simulated aerodynamic and actual rotor hardware. Subsequently the Contractor plans to incorporate advanced design features focusing on thermal management of the drive motor. An advanced prototype will be designed, fabricated, and tested as a complete system. One full prototype will be delivered to a major automotive OEM for testing with an actual fuel cell.


Economic development benefits for MiTi and NYS include up to 1,000 preproduction units to be built in 2006-2007, with potential for MiTi to establish facilities necessary to produce large-scale automotive production quantities. Successful development of the compressor would overcome a key hurdle in automotive fuel cells, which could provide major energy/environmental benefits in transportation. Also, this project could open the door to use of NYS-manufactured MiTi bearings in automotive turbochargers and other major markets.

Project Results

The Contractor completed the technology development aspects of this project adequately, and prepared an acceptable Final Report. It was, however, unable to consummate a solid connection to the market through an OEM relationship after the originally-engaged OEM partner withdrew its involvement in automotive fuel cells in general. While the prospects for commercialization of fuel cells in the automotive sector were recognized to be fairly long-term, this type of technology could possibly be applied to fairly similar derivative applications in the transportation sector, such as aircraft air cycle machines and automotive turbochargers.


Mohawk Innovative Technology, Inc.
1037 Watervliet Shaker Rd
Albany, NY 12205

Principle Investigator

James Walton

Universities Involved


Project Type:

Product Development

Technologies Types:


NYSERDA Contact Information

Frank Ralbovsky


R&D -Transport & Power Systems

Contract Details

Start Date: 1/11/2010
Project Status: Active
Contract Number: ST8809-1

Last Updated: 12/28/2010