NASA SBIR 2006 Solicitation


SUBTOPIC TITLE:Combustion for Aerospace Vehicles
PROPOSAL TITLE:Development of Manufacturing Methods for Low-Cost, High-Temperature Sensors Applicable to Hypersonic Research

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Prime Research LC
1750 Kraft Drive suite 1000
Blacksburg, VA 24060-6376
(540) 961-2200

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Russell G May
1750 Kraft Drive
Blacksburg, VA  24060-6376
(540) 961-2200

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT ( Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Routine installation and use of high-temperature optical sensors for characterization of advanced materials critical to NASA hypersonic programs are difficult due to the fundamental difficulties of integrating very diverse materials into a reliable, manufacturable sensor. Sensors based on high-temperature optical fibers (including sapphire fibers) have been developed through extensive research; however, little advancement has been made with regard to achieving cost-effective sensors that can be employed in large numbers. Currently, the materials of the mounting site, the materials of the sensor coupon, the fiber itself, sensor assembly methods and the optical interrogation methods have limited compatibility, resulting in each application becoming a custom installation. Recent demonstrations at Virginia Tech, under NASA hypersonic program funding, of advanced Fracture-Release coupon structures, novel connectorization techniques, and improved assembly methods have enabled more rapid fabrication of high-temperature sapphire fiber sensors well-suited to instrumentation of advance materials in hypersonic research. Prime Research, teaming with Virginia Tech, proposes to leverage these previous demonstrations to improve the manufacturability and ease-of-use of sapphire fiber strain gages, and to modify the assembly methods to permit their use with Prime Research's patented spinel-clad sapphire fibers, which have improved optical properties over unclad sapphire fibers.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS ( Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
A key research goal for NASA is the advancement of hypersonic flight. It is a stated NASA objective to advance knowledge in the application advanced materials (e.g. carbon-carbon, carbon SiC, etc.) and test & diagnostic capabilities to further hypersonic research. Particularly important to this objective is the requirement for high-temperature sensors (including strain, temperature, pressure, mechanical properties, etc.) applicable to supporting advances in the state of the art in hypersonic research, in addition to other flight regimes. The proposed program has specific relevance to NASA strategic sub-goals 3E.3 and 3E.1 as stated in the 2006 NASA Strategic Plan, in that a capability to measure flight mechanical, structural, and material parameters is required for research extensions of fundamental flight performance and mechanics, and operational performance monitoring functions.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS ( Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The product that will emerge following successful conclusion of the proposed SBIR program will satisfy a need in a small but important market. High-temperature strain gages that are currently available suffer from a number of drawbacks that prohibit their use for gas turbine instrumentation. Electrical strain gages are prone to electromagnetic interference and are limited to uses below 1000C. Commercially-available optical fiber strain gages are limited to temperatures below about 800C by dopant diffusion and glass devitrification. The sapphire fiber strain gage being developed through this SBIR program will be the first practical strain gage for direct measurement of strain in the hot sections of gas turbine engines. Immediate customers are likely to be the gas turbine engine manufacturers, as well as government test and evaluation labs. While this represents a small overall market, it is a viable market that will support sensor system manufacturing and sales.

NASA's technology taxonomy has been developed by the SBIR-STTR program to disseminate awareness of proposed and awarded R/R&D in the agency. It is a listing of over 100 technologies, sorted into broad categories, of interest to NASA.

Aircraft Engines
Control Instrumentation
Optical & Photonic Materials
Testing Facilities

Form Printed on 09-08-06 18:19