NASA SBIR 2002 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER:02-II 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)
Technology Applications, Inc.
5445 Conestoga Court, #2A
Boulder , CO   80301 - 2724
(303 ) 443 - 2262

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER: (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/ZIP, Phone)
Rolf Baumgartner
5445 Conestoga Court, #2A
Boulder , CO   80301 - 2747
(303 ) 443 - 2262

Technology Applications, Inc. is proposing to demonstrate a high thermal performance microsphere-based insulation to enable reliable energy-efficient, cost-effective cryogenic distribution over long distances for earth, space, and extraterrestrial environments. The new technology, which employs a lightweight microsphere-based insulating medium, provides for robust, low-maintenance storage and distribution systems. Well suited for the on/off operation that is typical for space launch operations, microsphere insulation minimizes losses in stored propellants at spaceports and for commercial liquefied gases. Microsphere insulation?s inherent properties of high crush strength and ability to flow combine to form a tough, resilient insulation system that withstands exposure to harsh launch/landing environments and ambient /vacuum pressure cycles. Based on extensive thermal testing, including recent measurements made at the Cryogenics Test Laboratory, microspheres perform 1.5 to 3.3 times better than perlite and limit heat leak to less than most insulation materials, particularly multilayer insulation (MLI), in a soft or lost vacuum condition. At 10-1 torr vacuum, microspheres outperform MLI by a factor of two. This means significantly reduced lifecycle costs from maintenance, lost cryogen, and reinsulation. Microsphere-insulated transfer line and storage tank prototypes will be extensively tested to optimize performance, address microsphere handling and containment methods, and validate long-term performance benefits.

NASA/KSC needs new insulation technology for future spaceports that require thermally efficient energy-integrated launch pads. Low-cost, durable, high-efficiency transfer lines will be needed for long-distance cryogen transport. Improvements are needed for existing LC-39 cryogenic loading systems. NASA/SSC is the lead center for rocket propulsion. Many NASA/SSC storage vessels are plagued by perlite compaction problems or poor vacuum retention from adsorbed moisture. Vacuum-jacketing does not exist on many transfer and vent lines, which present safety hazards, including formation of enriched oxygen, and substantial economic losses from steady-state heat loads and cool-down losses.

Primary commercial applications include transfer lines and storage vessels for the medical, liquefied natural gas, industrial gas air separation, superconductor, semi-conductor, food-freezing, and aircraft industries. Industrial cryogenic tank fabricators have expressed strong interest in microspheres as a higher performance substitute for perlite insulation that precludes the inevitable compaction problems and also recognize potential for microsphere-insulated vacuum-jacketed transfer lines. The domestic industrial cryogenic storage and transfer line markets are over $100M per year, with the global market about three times greater. Once microsphere insulation systems have been developed and proven by early adopters, other commercial customers will be attracted.

Form Printed on 10-03-03 11:34