NASA SBIR 2004 Solicitation

FORM B - PROPOSAL SUMMARY


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 04 X6.08-7817
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Launch Infrastructure and Operations
PROPOSAL TITLE: Aerogel Insulation to Support Cryogenic Technologies

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
ASPEN AEROGELS, INC.
30 Forbes Road, Building B
Northborough, MA 01532-2501
(508)691-1111

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Shannon White
swhite@aerogel.com
30 Forbes Road, Building B
Northborough, MA 01532-2501
(508)691-1111

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (LIMIT 200 WORDS)
NASA strives to make space travel safer, faster, and cheaper, expanding our horizons for a new generation of space exploration and colonization. This cannot be accomplished solely through improvements in the launch vehicle; the launch site and ground control systems must be equally enhanced. The next generation cryogenic propellant storage and distribution system must integrate an efficient overall structure and layout of the launch site. Many of the components in propellant distribution systems can be complex and require an insulation that can be formed to these irregular shapes. Aspen Aerogels bead technology can provide NASA with a solution. Aerogel beads are configurable to virtually any shape and offer a lightweight viable insulation solution with substantial improvements over conventional insulations such as superior thermal performance at moderate vacuum levels. As an improvement over silica aerogel, Aspen proposes the use of higher strength and more resilient organically modified aerogel beads to insulate cryogenic pipeline applications. During the proposed effort we will investigate two types of materials for the generation of clamshell type insulation with far superior thermal insulation properties; aerogel beads held together with a binder, and novel self-adhesional aerogel beads, both encapsulated in evacuated vacuum panels.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (LIMIT 100 WORDS)
Aerogel bead materials with superior mechanical resilience have numerous possibilities for use in advanced cryogenic space transportation technologies, as well as other high performance insulation needs. The material has been proposed for insulating cryogenic pipeline for applications in space transportation and insulation of miles-long cryogen transfer lines. NASA can also use the resilient bead composite insulation in various applications, from space launch vehicle propellant tanks, Space Shuttle upgrades, interplanetary propulsion and life support equipment.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (LIMIT 100 WORDS)
Applications for Aspen's aerogel bead composites are not restricted to NASA's field of interest. Aspen's hybrid aerogel beads can offer thermal management solutions for handling or transportation of cryogens, supporting cryogenic equipment manufacturers and suppliers. Cryomedical / cryobiological equipment and other industries where reliable low-temperature regulation is critical will benefit from development of this product. Provided low enough costs, the aerogel beads can become a commodity used in refrigerators and household freezers. Self-adhesional beads might also be processed into fire-resistant super insulation boards for residential thermal insulation applications.