NASA SBIR 2004 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 04 X6.02-9366
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Vehicle Airframe Structures
PROPOSAL TITLE: Low Permeability Polyimide Insulation

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Resodyn Technologies, LLC
1901 South Franklin Street
Butte, MT 59701-0000

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Scott Coguill
1901 South Franklin Street
Butte, MT 59701-0000

Resodyn Technologies proposes a new technology that enables the application of polyimide based cryogenic insulation with low hydrogen permeability. This effort supports the Vision for U.S. Space Exploration policy and the Exploration Systems Enterprise. This technology will benefit designers of cryogenic fuel tanks envisioned for new Earth-to-Orbit (ETO) Transportation vehicles. Specifically the need exists to reduce the loss of hydrogen through the walls of the proposed carbon/polymer composite cryogenic fuel tanks in order to achieve zero boiloff long-term storage capability. Resodyn Corporation's proposed use of its Thermal Spray Technology will enable the processing of engineered materials, high performance polymers, and high temperature foams that have not been possible to date. One example investigated will be a combination of polyimide micro-balloons in a liquid crystal polymer (LCP) matrix. Also contained in this foam would be a dispersion of reflective glass microspheres. This combination of materials provides insulation, a hydrogen barrier and a thermal radiation barrier. Foam samples will be fabricated and evaluated for physical and mechanical properties including density, compressive and shear strength, permeability, and insulative qualities. This new foam is referred to as Multi-functional Cryogenic Insulation (MCI).

Three primary categories of NASA applications exist. One is for thermal insulation of cryogenic tanks, where closed cell foams are necessary for cryogenic applications. Another is for acoustic and thermal insulation where open-cell foams are desired. A third is for ablative foams, where denser foams can be used, either open- or closed-cell, which are used for protection of heat sensitive skins for aerodynamic heating or fire protection. Primary attributes of the polyimide materials include, fire retardant, broad range of temperature applications (cryogen to high temperature), lack of off-gas and high mechanical strength.

The largest potential commercial use for the MCI material is in the cryogenic fuel tanks for hydrogen driven automobiles. Numerous hydrogen storage scenarios have been investigated for automotive use but the low pressure liquid hydrogen tank has the best potential. This application will need a cryogenic insulation with low hydrogen permeability. Military applications including the Hypersonic Cruise Vehicle (HCV) for the FALCON program will require the type of MCI materials developed in this project. The HCV will be equipped with composite fuel tanks requiring a cryogenic insulation with low hydrogen permeability.