NASA SBIR 2016 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 16-2 H8.01-7513
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Thermal Energy Conversion
PROPOSAL TITLE: Membrane-Supported Thermoelectric Generator

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Nanohmics, Inc.
6201 East Oltorf Street, Suite 400
Austin, TX 78741 - 7509
(512) 389-9990

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Steve Savoy
6201 East Oltorf Street, Suite 400
Austin, TX 78741 - 7509
(512) 389-9990

CORPORATE/BUSINESS OFFICIAL (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Steve Savoy
6201 East Oltorf Street, Suite 400
Austin, TX 78741 - 7509
(512) 389-9990

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 3
End: 5

Technology Available (TAV) Subtopics
Thermal Energy Conversion is a Technology Available (TAV) subtopic that includes NASA Intellectual Property (IP). Do you plan to use the NASA IP under the award?

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Solid-state thermoelectric (TE) devices provide many advantages in refrigeration (TE coolers) and power generation (TE generators). These highly reliable devices have no moving parts, operate over a large range of temperatures, and do not emit toxic or environmentally-unfriendly gases. These devices can be easily integrated into thermal energy conversion systems that meet NASA needs for innovative space power generation on orbiting platforms, extraterrestrial surfaces, and space transportation vehicles. To date, the adoption of TE generator (TEG) devices in energy scavenging/power recovery applications has been hampered by a lack of TE material compositions, no high throughput production methods for large-area conformable TEG devices, and high cost-per-unit area for tiling rigid plate TE devices. Production of large-area sheets of high-ZT TEG devices that conform to space vehicle and other relevant thermal gradient surfaces would be highly beneficial. This effort develops membrane-supported thermoelectric device manufacturing technology with in-situ sintering of high-ZT thermoelectric powders dispersed across a fiberglass sheet matrix serving as a mechanical support. The method provides intrinsic densification of the TE powders between the two faces of the fiberglass sheet and allows for large-scale conformable thermoelectric sheets to be produced with high performance at low cost.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Space power engineers can use these devices to produce custom fit power generation systems directly on surfaces with high temperature differences such as the hull of a space vehicle, satellite thermal busses, and extraterrestrial shelter materials. These large-area, integrated thermoelectric sheets will provide a means to maximize the extraction of otherwise wasted heat for both NASA and commercial applications such as automotive/aerospace exhaust systems, effluent piping, and petrochemical refining equipment. The proposed device embodiment is the only significant concept amendable to attachment to the contours and surfaces of space vehicles and as such will have a significant impact on generate power during space missions.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Unrecovered waste heat from energy-consuming industrial processes is estimated by the DOE at > 10 quads/yr (1 quad = 1015 BTU). Assuming a conservative 9 quads, 6% efficiency for TE devices constructed with our approach, 50% losses due to parasitic heat transfer losses and integration, and penetrating 10% of the waste heat market, we estimate an economically viable TE device could enable recovery of ~20 trillion BTU of waste heat/year. Additionally, the incorporation of TE devices in automobiles can improve the efficiency of their power system by up to 5%. This level of waste heat energy recovery would lower the average consumer gas consumption ~15-20 gallons with a cost savings on the order of $70?$100/year. A low-cost manufacturing solution would pay back in the first year, passing the savings onto the lifetime of the device, which based on non-moving parts, should be relatively long. The developed technology will lead to quasi-renewable energy recovery, or energy that would otherwise be radiated as waste environmental heat, resulting in a far-reaching impact on the world's energy consumption, including lowering the U.S. dependence on foreign oil. Next to solar energy, waste heat recovery is the most available secondary power source.

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.)
Active Systems
Heat Exchange
Materials (Insulator, Semiconductor, Substrate)
Processing Methods
Smart/Multifunctional Materials

Form Generated on 03-07-17 15:43