NASA SBIR 2004 Solicitation


SUBTOPIC TITLE:Materials Science for In-Space Fabrication and Radiation Protection

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
ZYVEX Corporation
1321 N. Plano Road
Richardson ,TX 75081 - 2426
(972) 235 - 7881

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Gobinath   Balasubramaniyam
1321 N. Plano Road
Richardson , TX  75081 -2426
(972) 235 - 7881

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Zyvex in cooperation with Prairie View A&M (CARR) and Boeing will develop a space radiation shielding multi-functional material that will provide high energy radiation shielding required to protect astronauts on extended missions, strong enough to be used as an integral structural material and tough enough to survive micro-meteor impacts, provide EMI shielding, and enhanced thermal conductivity. The team will also develop an improved protocol for testing radiation shielding material. This effort will entail developing a composite material which uses proven radiation shielding material Polyethylene(PE), as its primary constituent in the form of very strong/tough Spectra fibers woven into a 3D fabric. In Phase 1 we demonstrated that, compared to bulk PE, this composite approach has significantly improved mechanical properties, excellent electrical conductivity, good Electro Magnetic Interference (EMI) shielding properties, and maintains excellent space radiation shielding properties of PE. We also demonstrated exposure to large doses of high energy actually improved the mechanical properties. In Phase II, the epoxy matrix used in Phase I will be considered along with Cyanate Esters, and Polyimides, As in Phase I, coating the PE fabric and reinforcing the matrix material will be ultra-high strength, highly conductive carbon nanotubes (CNTs). Zyvex's unique and commercially successful CNT processing technology will be adapted to maximize the transfer of the extraordinary mechanical, electrical, and thermal properties of CNTs to the composite structures. The work plan includes approaches to overcome CNT processing and delamination issues discovered in Phase I. CARR will carryout more extensive radiation testing with several ions at different energies. Boeing which has significant interest in developing long term space exploration will guide the development of the material to meet specifications for planned applications.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
NASA's needs for radiation shielding for extended space missions is unquestioned. Polyethylene is the best known material for shielding high energy particles but is parasitic weight if it does not serve any other function. A material with good radiation shielding capabilities that can also have the strength to be an integral structural component, have the toughness to deal with micro-meteor impacts, and provide additional EM shielding clearly has value to NASA. In addition to the Phase I SBIR we are just completing with Marshall, we also are working on a Phase II SBIR with NASA JSC to develop CNT composites with ultra-high specific strength for demanding space vehicle applications. We have had successful commercial spin-offs from this program listed below. This work has been so successful that we are entering into a Space Act Agreement with JSC to collaborate with them in the pursuit of this technology. The collaborative work on this Space Act Agreement is expected to include but go beyond structural applications; we also expect that other advanced material applications such as space suit fabrics and high surface area support for CO2 scrubbing will be explored.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The NASA funded work on CNT/Polymer composites have already produced two commercial successes. Epoxy concentrates with dispersed CNTs are being sold to Easton Sports who are using this CNT material to make bicycle parts (being used in the 2005 Tour de France), baseball bats (which were used in the College World Series), and hockey sticks. Aldela, the largest manufacturer of composite golf club shafts is also using this technology in their product. We have had eight different industrial research contracts, many of which are ongoing, to develop CNT composites for a variety of applications. Applications include structural materials, thermal interface materials, ballistic protection materials, and others. We are also working with a number of other companies either in a collaborative development mode, or selling them materials for testing and development. We also have a DARPA program in their Defense Sciences Office to develop ultra-high strength CNT fibers. This work has led to a follow on program where Zyvex will be a subcontractor to Hexcel in developing a new generation of high strength fibers. This program has been awarded and is currently being negotiated.

Form Printed on 08-01-05 13:52