NASA SBIR 02-1 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER:02- H3.02-9883 (For NASA Use Only - Chron: 022116 )
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Spaceport and In-Space Cryogenic Fluids, Handling, and Storage Technologies
PROPOSAL TITLE: Cryogenic Propellant Insulation Program

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
5445 Conestoga Court, #2A
Boulder , CO   80301 - 2724
(303 ) 443 - 2262

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Mark Allen
5445 Conestoga Court, #2A
Boulder , CO   80301 - 2724
(303 ) 443 - 2262

Technology Applications, Inc. (TAI) is proposing to demonstrate feasibility of cryogenic propellant insulation technologies that improve the thermal performance, operational efficiencies, durability, reliability, and safety of these systems in earth, space, and extraterrestrial environments. The new technology, which employs microspheres as the insulating medium, provides for robust, low-maintenance storage systems and transfer lines well suited for the on/off operation that is typical for space launch operations. Microspheres perform over 1.6 times better than perlite, approach multilayer insulation (MLI) performance under proper vacuum, and limit heat leak to the level of foam insulation if vacuum is completely lost. They perform as well or better than any of the above insulation materials in a soft vacuum condition. This means less vacuum maintenance to be performed. Transfer line and dewar test articles will be manufactured to address microsphere containment and compaction issues. Microspheres can be used to insulate areas that have complicated geometry; require intermittent access, such as around instrumentation and piping components; or for applications that require formability and minimal weight. The innovations are applicable for high efficiency storage, handling, and distribution systems for spaceport cryogenic facilities, reusable launch vehicles, and the transport and storage of cryogenic propellants on Mars.

The transport, distribution, and storage of liquefied gases requires an effective insulation system to minimize boil-off rates and the energy required for the reliquefying plants as low as possible. New insulation options are needed that are durable, efficient, and low cost. The primary commercial applications include transfer lines and storage vessels for medical, industrial gas air separation, liquefied natural gas, semi-conductor, and food-freezing industries. The aerospace instry utilizes commercial insulated systems for aircraft and space applications, which need advanced insulations in some cases that are capable of covering the temperature range from helium storage to space reentry temperatures. Low and high temperature superconductors require insulated systems for helium and nitrogen, respectively. Academic institutions use cryogenic distribution and storage in their research laboratories. According to one commercial supplier who supplies vacuum jacket system for these applications, the vacuum transfer line market alone is currently $20-30M per year.

NASA/KSC has identified several insulation applications that are directly related to efficient storage and transfer of cryogenic propellants on earth and in space. Thermally-efficient, low-cost improvements are needed for the existing LC-39 cryogenic loading systems. The Space Launch Initiative will require new insulation for both cryogen transfer and storage.

NASA/SSC consumes many pounds of liquid hydrogen and oxygen each year in support of propulsion system development. Vacuum-jacketing does not exist on many liquid transfer and vent lines. Even liquid hydrogen lines are unjacketed in localized areas. Vent lines are frequently bare, which presents safety hazards including the formation of enriched oxygen. Other lines are foam-insulated, which degrades starting with the first thermal cycle and is lost after 3-5 years of operation. In addition to safety issues, the poor or non-existing insulation presents substantial economic losses from both the steady state heat load and cool-down losses.

Form Printed on 09-05-02 10:10