NASA SBIR 2009 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 09-1 A2.01-9471
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Materials and Structures for Future Aircraft
PROPOSAL TITLE: Lightweight, Efficient Power Converters for Advanced Turboelectric Aircraft Propulsion Systems

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
MTECH Laboratories, LLC
P.O. Box 227
Ballston Spa, NY 12020 - 0227
(518) 885-6436

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Michael J Hennessy
P.O. Box 227
Ballston Spa, NY 12020 - 0227
(518) 885-6436

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 3
End: 4

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
NASA is investigating advanced turboelectric aircraft propulsion systems that utilize superconducting motors to drive a number of distributed turbofans. In an early-stage concept, two superconducting turbine generators, mounted on each of the wing tips, are used to supply electrical power to 16 superconducting motors. Conventional electric motors are too large and heavy to be practical for this application, and so superconducting motors are required. These would operate at a temperature near that of liquid hydrogen, between 20 and 65 K. In order to improve maneuverability of the aircraft, variable speed power converters would be required to throttle power to the turbofans. The low operating temperature and the need for lightweight components that place a minimum of additional heat load on the refrigeration system opens the possibility of incorporating extremely efficient cryogenic power conversion technology. A complete study of cryogenic power conversion equipment for use in this application is the focus of this proposal. MTECH has designed, built, and tested a number of cryogenic inverters for different applications, and will adapt the cryogenic power technologies it has developed to the NASA application in this program.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Apart from superconducting turboelectric drive systems, cryogenic power conversion, or CryoPower, is a natural fit for a great many NASA applications. These include lunar and Mars missions as well as interplanetary and deep-space missions. In short, this technology is useful wherever small size, low weight, and high efficiency are required. In addition, space applications are perhaps the only ones where the natural environment is often cryogenic. The temperature in orbit of Saturn and Titan is around 90 K, and those reached on Uranus, Neptune, Triton, or Pluto are all between 38 and 60 K. The black-body equilibrium temperature in interstellar space is less than 40 K. Currently, space missions often require heaters to bring the temperature of electronics to about 300 K. Many of MTECH's systems and components not only perform their best in such environments, but are also capable of withstanding much wider temperature ranges.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Cryogenic power systems based on the R&D in this SBIR would find use in at least three other major markets. The most immediate and obvious customers will be the military and defense industries. The Navy's all-electric ship program would benefit most from this work, especially if superconducting motors and generators, which provide a cryogenic platform, are deployed. The next-largest package to be reduced in a ship is the power control electronics. Combining these technologies can provide a significant reduction in size and weight at greatly improved efficiency. A second market is the industrial power/utility market. Projects involving superconducting power transmission and distribution, including superconducting wind turbine generators, are perfect candidates for helping to commercialize this technology. The third market is the medical industry, in particular Magnetic Resonance Imaging, or MRI. The technology developed in this SBIR will enhance current MRI power supplies for gradients, pulsed fields, and RF transmission.

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.

Aircraft Engines
Power Management and Distribution
Semi-Conductors/Solid State Device Materials
Superconductors and Magnetic

Form Generated on 09-18-09 10:14