NASA SBIR 2008 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 08-2 X7.02-9609
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Cryogenic Fluid Transfer and Handling
PROPOSAL TITLE: An Advanced Cooling System for In-Situ Resource Utilization

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Creare, Inc.
P.O. Box 71
Hanover, NH 03755 - 0071
(603) 643-3800

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Jeffrey Breedlove
P.O. Box 71
Hanover, NH 03755 - 0071
(603) 643-3800

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

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
NASA plans to produce cryogenic oxygen and hydrogen to power regenerative fuel cells for lunar surface exploration. The oxygen and hydrogen will be produced by electrolysis of water from In Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) reactors. The electrolysis products will be warm high-pressure gases, requiring significant cryocooler power to achieve the desired storage conditions. This power can be reduced by expanding the gases adiabatically from the electrolysis pressure to storage pressure. We propose to develop innovative turboalternators to maximize this effect and convert the extracted fluid power into useful electric power. Small flow rates and high fluid densities require turbine rotors that are extremely small and operate at high speeds. Cryogenic gas bearings and miniature rotor fabrication techniques are key features that create high efficiency in our approach. The gas bearings also enable reliable, long-life, maintenance-free operation. The proposed development will leverage decades of Creare experience with cryogenic gas-bearing turbomachines. In Phase I, we developed optimized turboalternator designs by conducting trade studies, specifying design details, analyzing performance, and demonstrating bearing operation with two-phase rotor flow. During Phase II, we will create a complete set of fabrication drawings, develop critical fabrication processes, fabricate a prototype turboalternator, and measure its performance at representative operating conditions.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The primary NASA application for this technology is cryogenic fluid production to support extraterrestrial exploration and science. Initial designs will focus on oxygen and hydrogen production for regenerative fuel cells on the lunar surface. Future applications include liquid methane production, and alternative locations include other moons and planets in our solar system. Such systems could also be used for in-situ reactant production and storage aboard space stations and transportation spacecraft. Another potential application is to re-liquefy cryogens that boil off during in-space refueling of orbiting spacecraft. Broader uses include improved efficiency for turbo-Brayton cryocoolers and power generators. Development of small, efficient turbines would benefit both of these technologies, which have numerous NASA, DoD, and civilian applications.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Commercial applications focus on small to moderate scale production of cryogenic fluids for laboratory and industrial uses. Specific applications include: gas separation, superconductors, magnetic resonance imaging systems, material conditioning, cryogenic manufacturing techniques, academic research, cryogenic storage, re-liquefaction of LNG boil-off, and liquid hydrogen production for automotive fuel cells.

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 08-03-09 13:26