NASA SBIR 2006 Solicitation


SUBTOPIC TITLE:Lightweight Pressurized Structures Including Inflatables
PROPOSAL TITLE:Lightweight, Composite Cryogenic Tank Structures

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Microcosm, Inc.
401 Coral Circle
El Segundo, CA 90245-4622
(310) 726-4100

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Aaron S Leichner
401 Coral Circle
El Segundo, CA  90245-4622
(310) 726-4100

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT ( Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Microcosm has developed and qualified strong, all-composite LOX tanks for launch vehicles. Our new 42-inch diameter tank design weighs 486 lbs and burst without leaking at 2,125 psi, within 3.5% of the predicted burst pressure. This SBIR will analyze, design, build, and test much lighter weight all composite cryogenic tanks and examine, develop, and test alternative insulation techniques to minimize boil-off. This SBIR will also examine the reuse of propellant tanks as crew and storage habitats. During Phase I, we will design and fabricate 12 10-inch diameter and 2 25-inch diameter cryogenic tanks with a design burst pressure of approximately 850 psi. Eight of the 10-inch tanks and one 25-inch tank will be thermally cycled and burst tested using liquid nitrogen to obtain statistical data. The remaining 4 10-inch tanks will first be thermally cycled, then flushed out and re-pressurized with gaseous helium to simulate reuse as a crew habitat. The remaining 25-inch tank will be delivered to NASA for further testing. Phase II will fabricate, build, and test larger tanks and tanks specifically intended to meet the needs of future NASA programs, and alternative insulation approaches will be evaluated to minimize boil-off.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS ( Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The innovation proposed here is a new design and fabrication process for all-composite cryogenic tanks that in experiments to date has improved the performance per unit mass by a factor of 3 to 4. These tanks can be implemented into the CEV and CLV programs, as well as lunar lander and habitat programs, for the pressurized storage of a wide range of cryogenic propellants, including liquid oxygen, liquid hydrogen, and liquid methane. The significance is that the potential now exists to dramatically reduce the mass and cost of cryogenic tanks for launch and space applications, and to reuse these tanks for crew habitats. With this substantial weight reduction, any NASA programs utilizing propellant tanks could experience a significant improvement in performance, allowing larger payloads and more instrumentation to be launched.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS ( Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Because tanks typically represent the largest component of the mass of most launch vehicles, the potential exists to dramatically increase launch and in-space performance at little or no increase in cost. Specifically, the performance of the Sprite Small Launch Vehicle increases from 809 lbs to LEO with the prior composite tanks to 1050 lbs to LEO with the new, light-weight composite tanks. And, many other liquid stage launch vehicle programs could realize substantial weight and cost savings by implementing these tanks into their propulsion systems. As such, these launch vehicles could experience a considerable improvement in payload-to-orbit performance, allowing larger payloads and more instrumentation to be launched on each vehicle.

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.

Fluid Storage and Handling
Launch and Flight Vehicle
Propellant Storage
Structural Modeling and Tools
Thermal Insulating Materials

Form Printed on 09-08-06 18:19