NASA STTR 2010 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 10-1 T10.01-9965
PROPOSAL TITLE: Optical Approach to Augment Current Float Sensing Method of Determining Cryogen Fluid Height within a Tank

NAME: Innovative Imaging and Research NAME: The University of Southern Mississippi
STREET: Building 1103, Suite 140C STREET: 118 College Drive #5157
CITY: Stennis Space Center CITY: Hattiesburg
STATE/ZIP: MS  39529 - 0001 STATE/ZIP: MS  39406 - 0001
PHONE: (228) 688-2452 PHONE: (601) 266-4119

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Robert Ryan
Building 1103, Suite 140C
Stennis Space Center, MS 39529 - 0001
(228) 688-2276

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 2
End: 4

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Innovative Imaging and Research, a small technology development company, has teamed with the University of Southern Mississippi Instrument and Cryogenics Research Laboratory to integrate existing NASA Stennis Space Center heritage cryogen level monitoring technology with noncontact optical methods and advanced signal processing to create a 21st century liquid cryogen level measurement technique. We propose to place a fiber-optic laser range finder on the upper surface of a low pressure cryogen run tank and use the existing Hall effect float system as an optical target to reflect the light signal back to the range finder. We also propose combining measurements obtained with the fiber-optic range finder with those taken by the heritage system using a custom Kalman filter signal processing algorithm to reduce measurement noise and increase overall accuracy. Our optical technique has several advantages over the existing Hall effect method. It yields near continuous measurements and is not dependent on the location of individual sensors. It is based on an alternate physics approach and therefore yields completely independent results. The optical range finder instrument calibration is performed outside the tank, so test operation is not significantly impacted and run tanks do not need to be emptied. In addition, an optical fiber mounted on the upper surface of a cryogen tank does not present foreign object debris (FOD) concerns. During our Phase 1 STTR project we will demonstrate our concept in a university cryogen research laboratory using a commercial optical range finder. In Phase 2 we plan to demonstrate our concept with fiber-optic technology using the SSC Instrument Test Apparatus under a NASA Space Act Agreement. Our Phase 1 concept is at a technology readiness level (TRL) of 2. We expect to complete Phase 1 at a TRL of 4 and complete Phase 2 at a TRL of 6.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
After a successful Phase 2 STTR project, Innovative Imaging and Research will be in position to offer advanced liquid cryogen monitoring technology to the NASA propulsion test and launch market. We believe that there are several NASA commercial applications for a fiber-optic based liquid cryogen height measurement method. We are aware of several liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen run tanks at the NASA Stennis Space Center A and B Test Complexes that contain an existing heritage Hall effect float system. These run tanks are strong candidates to be directly retrofit with our technology. In addition to the facility at SSC, we believe that low pressure cryogen tanks that support other NASA Rocket Propulsion Test operations at Marshall Space Flight Center, Glenn Research Center Plum Brook Station and White Sands Test Facility and those that support NASA launch facilities at Kennedy Space Center could benefit by incorporating this advanced fiber-optic technology. Since alternate float approaches will be investigated during the technology development process, we will be in a position to develop custom fiber-optic range finder target float systems as part of our offering.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
After a successful Phase 2 STTR project, Innovative Imaging and Research will be in position to offer our advanced liquid cryogen monitoring technology to non-NASA government and commercial markets. The USAF AEDC and the AFRL at Edwards AFB are two defense-based facilities that actively test propulsion systems and as such have cryogen monitoring requirements. Launch facilities at Vandenberg AFB that require cryogen tank monitoring may benefit by our technology as well. There are also potential sales to aerospace companies like Lockheed Martin, Pratt and Whitney, Aerojet, Orbital and SpaceX that manufacture, design and build rocket motors. In addition, there is a large cryogen tank and instrumentation market worldwide that our technology could address. Major cryogen suppliers include Air Products, Linde Gas and Air Liquide. Related commercial applications include monitoring cryogenic storage facilities and transport tanks, particularly in the energy sector. Although it is not clear at this time whether there will be a significant move towards a Hydrogen-based economy, there are large investments being made worldwide to further the development of hydrogen based fuel cells and our fiber-optic based method could be used to monitor the liquid H2 tanks used for fuel cells. We also are exploring requirements for monitoring cryogen levels of liquefied natural gas tanks and we believe our technology may have use monitoring the fluid levels of hazardous chemical storage tanks.

TECHNOLOGY TAXONOMY MAPPING (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.)
Analytical Instruments (Solid, Liquid, Gas, Plasma, Energy; see also Sensors)
Hardware-in-the-Loop Testing
Optical/Photonic (see also Photonics)

Form Generated on 09-03-10 15:17