NASA SBIR 2020-I Solicitation

Proposal Summary


PROPOSAL NUMBER:
 20-1- Z10.04-4678
SUBTOPIC TITLE:
 Manufacturing processes enabling lower-cost, in-space electric propulsion thrusters
PROPOSAL TITLE:
 Innovations in Hollow Cathode Construction Technology
SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
E-beam, Inc.
21070 Southwest Tile Flat Road
Beaverton, OR 97007
(503) 628-0703

Principal Investigator (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)

Name:
Bernard Vancil
E-mail:
bernie@ebeaminc.com
Address:
21070 Southwest Tile Flat Road Beaverton, OR 97007 - 8739
Phone:
(503) 628-0703

Business Official (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)

Name:
Bernard Vancil
E-mail:
bernie@ebeaminc.com
Address:
21070 Southwest Tile Flat Road Beaverton, OR 97007 - 8739
Phone:
(503) 628-0703
Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) :
Begin: 4
End: 6
Technical Abstract (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)

We offer several innovations in the joining of various elements in hollow cathodes and the surrounding structures. These replace the more expensive, less compact, brazing technology and mechanical capture currently used. The proposed techniques include welding 1) molybdenum to molybdenum; 2) molybdenum and molybdenum alloys to porous tungsten; 3) molybdenum to stainless steel; 4) molybdenum to kovar; 5) a new potted tungsten heater to cathodes and supports; and 6) alternative materials such as niobium and hafnium. All of these weld processes allow automated production.

 

E beam has over 30 years’ experience developing new, innovative cathode structures. It is the leader in cathode miniaturization. Precision laser and resistance welding is essential for these structures. E beam is the only company that can reliably weld impregnated cathodes to base metals.

 

The secret to successful welding of disparate refractories is the choice of interface materials and the allowance for mismatches in the coefficient of thermal expansion. We routinely employ TIG, resistance, and laser welding in cathode production, and have done ebeam welding.

 

In addition to conventional hollow cathodes, we plan to apply the new joining techniques to scandate hollow cathodes, hollow reservoir cathodes, and planar micro-thruster cathodes. The proposed innovations will improve and lower the cost of conventional hollow cathodes. A planar 0.050-inch diameter planar scandate cathode using heater power of only half a watt is able to produce over one ampere of discharge current.

Potential NASA Applications (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)

The innovations apply to NASA’s Hall and ion thrusters that employ conventional impregnated cathodes. These cathodes will be more compact, use less power, be more manufacturable and reliable. For long-range space missions, hollow reservoir cathodes provide longer life than impregnated cathodes. The improvements here will improve the reliability of reservoir cathodes. NASA has several initiatives involving micro-thrusters. The weld technology proposed is critical for  very small planar scandate cathodes capable of  up to 4A of discharge.

Potential Non-NASA Applications (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)

The innovations proposed here would apply to hollow cathodes, including reservoir cathodes used in orbit-raising of heavy communications satellites. They also apply to micro-thrusters for SmallSats and CubeSats, where much commercial work is occurring.

Duration: 6

Form Generated on 06/29/2020 21:02:58