NASA STTR 2017 Solicitation
FORM B - PROPOSAL SUMMARY
|PROPOSAL NUMBER:||171 T4.02-9965|
|RESEARCH SUBTOPIC TITLE:||Regolith Resources Robotics - R^3|
|PROPOSAL TITLE:||Metal Production away from Earth|
|SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (SBC):||RESEARCH INSTITUTION (RI):|
|NAME:||Lynntech, Inc.||NAME:||University of Texas El Paso|
|STREET:||2501 Earl Rudder Freeway South||STREET:||500 W University|
|CITY:||College Station||CITY:||El Paso|
|STATE/ZIP:||TX 77845 - 6023||STATE/ZIP:||TX 79968 - 0001|
|PHONE:||(979) 764-2219||PHONE:||(915) 757-6465|
PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Dr. Olga Ivanova
2501 Earl Rudder Freeway
College Station, TX 77845 - 6023
CORPORATE/BUSINESS OFFICIAL (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
2501 Earl Rudder Freeway South
College Station, TX 77845 - 6023
Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Technology Available (TAV) Subtopics
Regolith Resources Robotics - R^3 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)
Long-term occupation of space requires a supply of metal suitable for fabrication of various components and structures. While astronomical objects are rich in the desired metallic elements, these elements are in the form inappropriate for use in Additive Manufacturing processes. Lynntech, in collaboration with University of Texas El Paso, proposes to develop a process to convert material from its native state (typically an oxide dispersed in a silicate matrix) to one suitable for use in Additive Manufacturing methods to allow the direct fabrication of complex parts in space. Proposed process consists of four steps: grinding of the native material for ease of processing, reduction of oxides to zero valent metal, conversion of the metal to a volatile form for separation and recovery, and direct formation of metal powder in a size and purity suitable for use in Additive Manufacturing. Our unique process requires relatively low temperatures, recycles all the reagents (thus there is no need for consumables), and produces oxygen as a byproduct.
Phase I effort will demonstrate the reduction, volatilization, and powder formation steps for nickel and iron using regolith simulant as the feedstock. Recovered metal powders will be thoroughly characterized for use in powder-based Additive Manufacturing processes.
POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Producing the materials needed to fabricate structures and vehicles is a critical requirement for the long-term occupation of space. If everything had to be delivered from Earth, the cost would be overwhelming. The process proposed here will allow the production of iron and nickel almost anywhere in the solar system in a form appropriate for use in Additive Manufacturing without consuming any material that must be brought from Earth. Once in the powder form the metals, if desired, can readily be converted to other forms such as rods, ingots, and sheets for use with conventional fabrication methods. Therefore, proposed process allows supplying both additive and conventional fabrication processes with metal.
POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The volatilization-based process to be used in the proposed project is already known as an effective method of producing high purity metals. Pure metals produced by this process are generally more expensive compared to those produced by other processes (for instance, iron reduced with coke), which limits their use to high value applications. A direct application of the proposed process is to permit the straight fabrication of metal in a form suitable for Additive Manufacturing processes rather than making bulk material and reducing its particle size. Indirectly, improvements made as part of this project will contribute to reducing the price gap and increasing the number of applications that can cost effectively use high purity iron and nickel.
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.)
Essential Life Resources (Oxygen, Water, Nutrients)
In Situ Manufacturing