NASA SBIR 2008 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 08-1 X7.03-8963
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Cryogenic Instrumentation for Ground and Flight Systems
PROPOSAL TITLE: Multi-Agent Optical Sensor Chip for Cryogenic Fluids Leak Detection

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Intelligent Optical Systems, Inc.
2520 W. 237th Street
Torrance, CA 90505 - 5217
(424) 263-6300

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Manal Beshay
2520 W. 237th Street
Torrance, CA 90505 - 5217
(424) 263-6360

Expected Technology Readiness Level (TRL) upon completion of contract: 4

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
In space missions, launch vehicles (LV) are filled with cryogenic propellant fluids. It is important to protect these LVs from any leakage of liquid propellants through a reliable, accurate, leak detection system. Currently used analytical methods do not meet space mission requirements of low power consumption, reliability, low weight, and cost effectiveness. To overcome these limitations, Intelligent Optical Systems (IOS) proposes to adapt, optimize, and integrate optical detection technologies into an accurate leak detection system for H2, O2, and CH4.
Due to their extreme low temperatures, these cryogenic fluids induce a contraction of the materials they contact, creating a potential cause of leakage. Hydrogen leakage in air creates an explosive atmosphere for hydrogen concentrations (between 4% (v/v) – the lower explosive limit (LEL) and 74.5% (v/v) – the upper explosive limit (UEL)) at room temperature and pressure. The early detection of cryogenic fluid leakage is extremely important for reasons of safety, reliability, and economy. IOS will provide its expertise in optical sensing to develop a miniaturized, reliable, highly sensitive, multi agent detection prototype, a Multi-Agent Optical Sensor Chip for Cryogenic Fluids Leak Detection (MOSCLD). The study will target detection limits of 1ppm or less and a response time in the millisecond range.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
NASA's space shuttle missions are time-critical for launch. Since the risk of launch delay due to hydrogen, oxygen, or methane leakage is very high, avoiding launch delays is a high priority, particularly for the missions manifested for the Space Station. Sensors that can measure hazardous gas concentrations in real time, in situ, at multiple locations, from one part per million (ppm) to 100%, and in a high-vibration environment, are needed. Implementing a distributed sensing system offers significant improvement in detection capability with minimal weight impact and substantial cost savings. Miniaturized electronic sensors are also used to monitor leakage, with multiple sensors placed at strategic locations. The presence of electrical wiring in potentially explosive environment, coupled with electromagnetic interference from other systems, makes the use of electronic sensors less than desirable.
IOS proposed (MOSCLD), will offer the real time, and multi-location early leak detection down to the ppm levels. The extended optical pathlength enables the achievement of the required detection levels, while the miniaturized sensor chip allows the non-powered multi-site leak monitoring.
The MOSCLD sensor will be coupled with optical fibers to remote light sources and photodetectors to eliminate the electric wiring through the cryogenic fluids tanks and hence be intrinsically safe against dangerous spark generation in an explosive environment.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Hydrogen fuel cells will soon be replacing highly emissive petroleum fuels. The integration of such cells in automobiles and other equipment requires the development of a hydrogen leak detector. The proposed sensor platforms, because of their reliability, size, energy consumption, and cost effectiveness, will lead to their application in many different areas, including fueling stations, tank storage, and service stations.

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

Form Generated on 11-24-08 11:56