NASA SBIR 2006 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 06-2 X9.01-8488
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Long Term Cryogenic Propellant Storage, Management, and Acquisition
PROPOSAL TITLE: Integrated MLI: Advanced Thermal Insulation Using Micro-Molding Technology

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Quest Product Development Corporation
4900 Iris Street
Wheat Ridge, CO 80033 - 2215
(303) 670-5088

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Scott A Dye
4900 Iris Street
Wheat Ridge, CO 80033 - 2215
(303) 670-5088

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Lightweight, high performance thermal insulation is critical to NASA's next generation Exploration spacecraft. Zero or low cryogenic propellant boiloff is required during extended missions and lengthy on-orbit times. Multilayer insulation (MLI) is currently the insulation of choice for cryotank insulation. MLI's high vacuum performance exceeds alternative insulations by a factor of ten. However, heat flow through MLI is usually the largest heat leak in cryogenic systems, so improvements in thermal performance are desirable. Integrated Multi-Layer Insulation (IMLI) is an innovative new technology using a micro-molded polymer substructure integrated with radiation barriers to provide an ultra-high performance thermal insulation system. IMLI was proven a viable concept in Phase I work, reaching TRL4 with component validation in the laboratory. Prototypes were built and tested, demonstrating equal to lower thermal conductivity than MLI, and layers attached to each other in a snap-together assembly with controlled layer spacing. The Phase I IMLI prototype had a thermal conductivity of 1.8 W/m2, with the Celcon polymer used for these prototypes still outgassing. The IMLI thermal conductivity was calculated to be 63% that of MLI, which would provide improved long term cryogenic propellant storage. This improved insulation can provide lower thermal conductivity, vacuum compatibility, layers inherently attached to each other that support themselves, and efficient assembly. IMLI may also provide inherent structural benefits, including improved strength and integrity over current MLI. This proposal is to further develop IMLI toward commercialization. Tasks proposed include a next generation design improving on what was learned in Phase I, for material selection, fabrication methods for seams and corners including interleaving and layer thermal matching, and building and testing prototypes in realistic environments such as a 500 liter cryotank.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
There are current spacecraft and instrument thermal insulation needs outside of NASA that would benefit from IMLI. DoD and commercial space ventures have requirements for thermal insulation. The DoD space market is about equal to the NASA and commercial market, or potentially $100M over twenty years. High performance thermal insulation has use in a broad range of non-aerospace applications and markets, including commercial cryogenic applications such as cryogenic vessels and pipes in scientific and industrial applications. A major use is insulating cryogenic dewars which are widely used in research (university, government and industrial labs), medical (preserving specimens and generating gases such as oxygen) and industrial uses. Another application is insulating superconducting devices such as medical MRI systems. Other potential applications include large commercial tanks, industrial boilers and industrial hot and cold process equipment, refrigerated trucks and trailers, insulated tank, container and rail cars, liquid hydrogen fueled aircraft or fuel cells, appliances such as refrigerators and freezers, hot water heaters, Thermos type liquid containers, picnic and mobile containers to keep foods hot or cold, marine refrigeration, potentially even house structures. Refrigerator/freezers and water heater appliances, in particular, would benefit from superior insulation with improved energy efficiency.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Lightweight, high performance thermal insulation is critical to NASA's next generation Exploration spacecraft. Zero or low cryogenic propellant boiloff is required during extended missions. Integrated MLI will provide improved and more predictable thermal performance and improved structural integrity for spacecraft cryogenic propellant storage It can provide substantially lower heat leak into cryogenic propellants storage, helping enable longer manned space flights and longer on-orbit times. Other standard spacecraft insulation uses, such as insulating and maintaining cryogenics on space instruments, satellite busses, spacecraft cabins and lunar surface habitats, could also be served by IMLI. IMLI has excellent properties required for spacecraft use; low thermal conductance, vacuum compatibility of materials, inherent control of layer dimensions and density, snap-together, self-supporting layers with a polymer substructure, and ease of assembly. Specific NASA applications include insulation for the cryogenic propellant tanks for the EDS, LSAM and EDCUS vehicles. IMLI could be an enabling technology for these vehicles by providing higher performance insulation and by possibly enabling the cryotanks to be used as part of the vehicle structure, potentially reducing launch vehicle mass. Low mass, low thermal conductance cryotank structural systems are of interest to NASA.

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
Propellant Storage
Thermal Insulating Materials

Form Generated on 08-02-07 14:39