NASA SBIR 2006 Solicitation


SUBTOPIC TITLE:Material Concepts for Lightweight Structure Technology Development
PROPOSAL TITLE:Composite Shell / Nanoporous Organosilica Core -Multifunctional Structures

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Iten Industries, Inc.
4602 Benefit Ave
Ashtabula, OH 44005-2150
(440) 997-6134

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Paula    Watt
4602 Benefit Ave
Ashtabula, OH  44005-2150
(440) 997-6134

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT ( Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Planetary exploration presents challenges for mobility, fuel efficiency, payload weight management, robustness, and thermal as well as radiation protection. There is a need for lightweight structures in space transport, vehicle systems, instrumentation, planetary access, as well as operations including facilities and habitats. These vehicles, equipment, and structures will be subjected to rigorous environmental exposures and assaults. Innovations that increase specific strength and stiffness, reduce weight, provide radiation shielding, enhance thermal management, and improve robustness, in a safe, reliable, cost effective manner will contribute to the success of these missions.

This proposal offers an innovative solution utilizing fundamental mechanical engineering principles taken to a multi-hierarchical level. Directionally oriented reinforced composites, structural foam, honeycomb, and core-shell designs are mature technologies. The distinguishing element of the approach for this proposal is the unique, new to the world, X-aerogel core material developed by NASA GRC. Aerogels are touted as the lowest-density solid materials known and have excellent insulation capacity but are extremely fragile. Through conformal polymer crosslinking of the silica structure, these sol-gel castings can be strengthened into the realm of load bearing materials at densities in the 0.2 to 0.3 g/cc range. Further, this proposal explores manipulation of the core material nanostructure through surfactant induced micelle formation. This will create controlled morphology nano-honeycomb, which is expected to greatly enhance the strength and reliability versus the sol-gel random nanofoam through elimination of stress concentrators and optimal distribution of load. When these cores are coupled with advanced composite skins, resulting structures are extremely lightweight with strength, stiffness, and insulation performance far beyond what is currently commercialized.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS ( Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
High strength, light weight, robust, thermally insulative, and radiation protecting, structures for planetary exploration are needed. The largest anticipated applications for this development is building structures for operations facilities and habitats that can be kitted and quickly erected with minimal effort. These structures will have conductivity imparted as required to provide lighting strike deterrence, will have very high thermal insulation efficiency, be very impact, abrasion, and wind resistant, and provide radiation protection. A typical building kit would consist of anchoring, framing, and load bearing wall and roofing panels. The lightweight panels could consist of an outer shell utilizing either carbon fibers or carbon nanotubes to impart electrostatic dissipation in the case of lighting strike. This skin will be ballistic/storm grade composite to withstand aggressive impacts. The highly insulative core material will be X-aerogel or polymer modified nano-honeycomb siliceous structures that have been modified with high hydrogen content species to impart radiation shielding. The inner skin could be less robust and aesthetically desirable.
Other areas of use will be in armoring vehicles and aircraft for the same hazards with reduced weight. Thermal and acoustic insulation benefits for these transport applications in addition to impact resistance, radiation protection, and low weight will be realized.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS ( Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
These nanoporous composites have a wide range of utility for defense applications. It is a logical extension that the DOD will have interest in these materials and structures for aerospace, marine, vehicles, and ballistic protected facilities.
As the technology is proven successful and processes are streamlined, commercialization will follow into civilian marine, airline, consumer, and construction markets. Because of the unique combination of exceptional properties, a network of eager end-users for a number of applications including boat cores, building panels, skylights, aircraft, automotive, pressure vessel, ballistic protection, and refrigeration insulation already exists.
In buildings, the combination of structural walls and highly efficient insulation could reduce overall materials and installation costs. The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy reports that in our buildings today we consume 39% of the energy and more than 70% of the electricity in the nation. In these energy conscious times, improved insulation materials will be quickly be approved for use. Drywall type forms could replace the need for foamed in or fiberglass insulation allowing for thinner wall sections and reduced material costs. The weight and bulk of roofing structures could be greatly reduced. With a single 1" windowpane of aerogel equivalent to the insulation provided by 32 windowpanes of glass, translucent X-aerogel are a highly desirable material for daylighting.

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
Radiation Shielding Materials
Thermal Insulating Materials

Form Printed on 09-08-06 18:19