NASA SBIR 2006 Solicitation


SUBTOPIC TITLE:Oxygen Production from Lunar Regolith
PROPOSAL TITLE:Modular Distributed Concentrator for Solar Furnace

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
DR Technologies, Inc.
7740 Kenamar Court
San Diego, CA 92121-2425
(858) 587-4210

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Theodore  G. Stern
7740 Kenamar Court
San Diego, CA  92121-2425
(858) 677-1230

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT ( Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
This research proposes to develop a lightweight approach to achieving the high concentrations of solar energy needed for a solar furnace achieving temperatures of 1000-2000C. Conventional solar-fired furnaces face significant challenges in fabricating, deploying and pointing the large aperture, high concentration ratio reflectors that power them. The Modular Distributed Concentrator (MDC) is a systems solution comprising an array of identical, modestly sized solar concentrator dishes with a network of optical or thermal transmission links that route the high quality concentrated energy to a centralized receiver. The approach provides lower mass because of the ability to optimize the scale of the individual reflectors to achieve high concentration ratio without the heavy structure needed to achieve and maintain optical alignment found in large aperture optics. The minimum deployed height associated with an array of concentrators allows for good packaging efficiency and minimum deployment complexity, and since the dishes are one-piece and identical, tooling and manufacturing costs are significantly reduced. The proposed program performs system optimization trades and then proceeds to the preliminary design and development of key components such as the optical light guide and thermal heat pipe transmission links that carry the energy to the furnace, as well as the key input and output interfaces. A proof-of-concept demonstration in Phase I will be used to validate the performance model and guide the detailed design, development and environmental testing of system components in Phase II.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS ( Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
In addition to application to the needs for high temperature regolith processing for oxygen, silicon and other materials on the lunar surface, NASA can benefit from the application of this technology to manned spacecraft requirements. The MDC provides an alternative to the large deployable solar concentrators which were the main impediment preventing the realization of benefits from solar dynamic converters with thermal energy storage for space station and other large habitable space modules. The use of solar energy directly as light and heat also provides a more efficient resource for climate control functions of space, lunar and planetary habitats.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS ( Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
There are a significant number of applications that could be enabled by a modular concentrator approach that allows transmission of the high-power, concentrated solar energy. Medium- and high-temperature industrial processes could enjoy significant monetary savings by replacing electrical energy with direct solar firing, but most processes cannot be reasonably located at the focus of a solar concentrator. A significant energy user that would benefit from the MDC is in the fabrication of solar grade silicon from sand ? a process that can take place in desert areas where direct solar is abundant. Another potential significant user of this technology is the environmental remediation industry which can purify water by dissociating chlorofluorocarbons with concentrated sunlight piped directly to the ground water table.

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.

In-situ Resource Utilization
Power Management and Distribution
Renewable Energy
Thermodynamic Conversion

Form Printed on 09-08-06 18:19