NASA SBIR 02-1 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER:02- H3.07-7490 (For NASA Use Only - Chron: 024509 )
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Space Nuclear Power For Human Missions
PROPOSAL TITLE: Thermochemical Energy Conversion Engine for Electricity Generation

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
5340 Millertown Pike, Suite 131
Knoxville , TN   37924 - 2139
(865 ) 483 - 3520

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Dr. George Courville
5340 Millertown Pike, Suite 131
Knoxville , TN   37924 - 2139
(865 ) 689 - 7290

NASA is interested in the development of highly advanced systems, subsystems and components to enable future robotic and manned missions. A key requirement for these challenging missions will be the development of high efficiency power conversion systems with increased power density. Ecotera Energy proposes an innovative gas turbine improvement, the Thermochemical Energy Conversion (TEC) engine, which has important advantages for space missions over alternatives. TEC engines use a closed?cycle gas turbine and the unique feature of an active working fluid that reversibly dissociates creating greater expansion through the turbine and recombining prior to compression during each cycle. This results in a reduction in the fraction of turbine power required to turn the compressor and an increase in the heat transfer coefficient compared to recuperators with non-dissociating working fluids. For NASA, these features mean increased energy efficiency (over 45%) and higher power density (500 w/Kg) than existing systems in the same power range, which will reduce mass allocations for electricity generation on space missions. Other advantages of TEC include: easy scaling from a few kWe to MWe; operation with any thermal energy source including methane, hydrogen, solar thermal, and reactor waste heat; enhanced heat rejection; and quiet, hermetically sealed operation.

Engines based on the TEC concept will have superior thermal efficiency and power density to alternative energy converters in the range of a few kilowatts to a few hundred kilowatts. The TEC engine is suitable for use as a solar thermal energy converter, biofuel/biomass converter, industrial waste heat recovery systems, and remote power services using indigenous fuels. Cross-cutting applications include commercial aircraft auxiliary power units, turbofan engines, combined cooling, heat and power systems, hybrid electric vehicle power systems, distributed generation, village power and man-portable power units. There is a worldwide need for more efficient modular power units with lower emissions.

Systems incorporating the TEC engine would support advancements in NASA?s Space Solar Power and Dynamic Solar Power Programs, and Brayton and Stirling Space Nuclear Power Systems. The advanced heat rejection design, high power density, and quiet operation are additional benefits of TEC power supplies on spacecraft as well as for satellite and science station power sources and space auxiliary power systems. TEC technology could also be configured to provide power for aircraft propulsion.

A complete TEC system could integrate multiple technologies such as oil-free turbomachinery, high speed turbo alternators, and Brayton and Stirling power conversion systems.

Form Printed on 09-05-02 10:10