NASA SBIR 01-1 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: H4.02-8799 (For NASA Use Only - Chron: 013200 )

Leak detection and location within manned spacecraft has been an elusive goal as was demonstrated on MIR. Manual leak detection, using ultrasonic technology, was successfully demonstrated at Johnson Space Center by a project team within ES using techniques for leak detection in pressurized aircraft. Manual surveys are intrusive to space craft activities and crews. An automated process of leak detection and location is needed. IVC proposes to do this with (a) existing space qualified hardware, (b) an addition of wideband ultrasonic transducers, and (c) new "smart" software algorithms that process emitted leak energy in a manner that results in detection and location of the leak. The uniqueness of the proposed approach is the use of large numbers of self-powered, miniaturized, "stick on" ultrasonic sensory nodes that are all synchronized within a radio frequency network and are self calibrating. The network provides the data paths and synchronization. Ultrasonic transducers can act as transmitters as well as receivers. Thus the sensor network calibrates itself thus increasing detection and location accuracy. Numbers of MicroWIS units (organized into such networks) have already been flown on Shuttle and station and have operated in a completely non-intrusive manner in regard to radio frequency, physical encumbrance, and astronaut time.

The direct commercial application of the proposed system would be to retrofit existing space vehicles in need of a leak detection and location capability. The system could also be applied to atmospheric aircraft to speed the initial "cold soak" and pressure integrity surveys accomplished by pre-delivery flight testing of commercial airframes. Leaks could be detected in places where humans cannot go due to environmental constraints.

Reduced cost systems would be applicable to industrial manufacturing processes where leak detection is critical to product quality. One example of this would be rotational plastic molding where hollow molds are rotated it two planes while being heated. The plastic pellets within the mold melt and the resulting liquid is distributed over the inside surface of the mold to form hollow products such as fuel tanks, air ducts, and fluid channeling components. Precision measurement of leaks during the "casting" process would insure the proper distribution of liquid plastic on the inside of the mold. Constant scanning for leaks would allow the system to be integrated into a closed loop control system that would vary the speed and plane of mold rotation machine in order to insure remedial efforts to allow closure of mold leaks.

NAME AND ADDRESS OF PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR (Name, Organization Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip)
Karl Kiefer
19221 IH 45 South - Suite 530
Conroe , TX   77385 - 8746

NAME AND ADDRESS OF OFFEROR (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip)
19221 IH 45 South - Suite 530
Conroe , TX   77385 - 8746

Form Printed on 06-19-01 15:44