NASA SBIR 2006 Solicitation


SUBTOPIC TITLE:Long Term Cryogenic Propellant Storage, Management, and Acquisition
PROPOSAL TITLE:High Efficiency Regenerative Helium Compressor

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Advanced Mechanical Technology Inc
176 Waltham St
Watertown, MA 02472-4809
(617) 926-6700

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Charles   Hannon
176 Waltham St
Watertown, MA  02472-4809
(617) 926-6700

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT ( Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Helium plays several critical rolls in spacecraft propulsion. High pressure helium is commonly used to pressurize propellant fuel tanks. Helium cryocoolers can be used to sub-cool and thereby densify cryogenic propellants such as liquid hydrogen (LH2) and liquid oxygen (LO2). The use of densified cryogenic propellants can reduce the gross payload weight of a launch vehicle by up to 20%, or increase payload capability. Helium compressors are critical components for cryogenic propellant storage and distribution systems, whether used in cryocoolers for densification or to compress gaseous helium for propellant pressurization. Regenerative compressor technology can serve high head, low flow helium pressurization applications in a compact form with high reliability. Pressure ratios on the order of 3:1 per impeller-stage are commercially available. Non-lubricated gas-bearing supported prototypes have been successfully demonstrated. However, even state-of-the-art prototype regenerative compressors are limited to efficiencies of about 55%. This was achieved using aerodynamic rotor blades rather than the straight radial blades previously used. Commercially available regenerative compressors with straight vaned rotors operate at much lower efficiency. An innovation is proposed that promises to improve the efficiency of regenerative compressors well beyond the current state of the art.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS ( Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Potential NASA related applications for a high efficiency regenerative compressor include propellant management in space, in-situ resource recovery from the lunar or Martian surface, and as a component in high efficiency cryocoolers in space. Successful development of a high efficiency regenerative compressor will enable development of high efficiency DC flow and hybrid cryocooler cycles that will eliminate the need for large-scale cryogen storage for cooling of electronics and optics in space. A regenerative compressor is ideally employed in and low specific speed gas compression application (high head, low flow).

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS ( Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
There is current commercial interest in using regenerative compressors to pressurize natural gas fuel to micro-turbine power generators (terrestrial). Closed cycle cryocoolers are beginning to replace stored liquid helium to cool MRI and NMR magnets. The efficiency of AC flow cryocoolers currently used is low. A high efficiency, high head helium compressor will enable development of highly efficient compact DC flow cryocoolers for this and other terrestrial applications. The compressor innovation is also applicable to regenerative pumps and blowers which find widespread industrial use.

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.

Feed System Components
Fluid Storage and Handling
In-situ Resource Utilization
Propellant Storage
Superconductors and Magnetic

Form Printed on 09-08-06 18:19