NASA SBIR 2004 Solicitation

FORM B - PROPOSAL SUMMARY


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 04 S1.02-8016
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Deep Space Propulsion
PROPOSAL TITLE: Gelled Propellants for Reduced Temperature Operation

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
EERGC Corporation
18A Mason
Irvine, CA 92618-2706
(949)768-3756

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Mark Sheldon
msheldon@eergc.com
18A Mason
Irvine, CA 92618-2706
(949)768-3756

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (LIMIT 200 WORDS)
This proposal is responsive to NASA 2004 SBIR objectives (under Topic X6.05) seeking gelled propellant formulations "for long-duration missions involving low-power consumption (i.e., minimal use of heaters)." EERGC Corporation, in cooperation with subcontractor Northrop Grumman Space and Technology (NGST) Propulsion Systems, proposes to develop gelled propellant formulations (and development methodologies) optimized for high combustion efficiency, storability at variable low temperatures including freezing conditions, and firing at reduced temperatures to minimize energy requirements for heat up prior to firing. The approach is an innovation as it enables loaded gels with optimized low-temperature performance. The gel formulations will be optimized with respect to composition of gellants, additives, and loading agents, as well as characteristic size of particulate ingredients. The approach will consider the tradeoff impacts of propellant formulation and loading particle size on maximum attainable loading, solid phase burnout, susceptibility to separation from thermal cycling, and ultimately combustion efficiency. The project is relevant as it improves the competitiveness of gelled bipropellants with equivalent liquids, while incorporating gels' safety and handling advantages. The proposed program takes gel technology beyond that developed by EERGC under prior and ongoing DoD and NASA programs.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (LIMIT 100 WORDS)
If successful, this project will provide NASA with: specific propellants with minimum energy requirements for storage and preparation for firing, while maximizing combustion efficiency; and improved methods for testing the impacts of freeze/thaw cycling. The methodology developed under this program could in turn be applied for formulations with different ingredients.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (LIMIT 100 WORDS)
The products of this project will provide non-NASA beneficiaries (e.g. DoD and commercial space flight) the same advantages as listed above for NASA. DoD gel applications will utilize the methodology with different formulation constraints due to DoD requirements for plume signature minimization. The minimization of product quality impacts due to thermal cycling, and development of test methodologies for determining such impacts, has implications for optimization of gelled consumer product formulations.