NASA SBIR 02-1 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER:02- H3.01-7506 (For NASA Use Only - Chron: 024493 )
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Thermal Control Systems for Human Space Missions
PROPOSAL TITLE: Nanostructured Aerogel Systems for Cold Volume Enclosures

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Aspen Aerogels, Inc.
184 Cedar Hill St.
Marlborough , MA   01752 - 3017
(508 ) 481 - 5058

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Don Young
184 Cedar Hill St.
Marlborough , MA   01752 - 3017
(508 ) 481 - 5058

Spacecraft design parameters limit and trade off volume, mass, power usage, and cost to maximize system performance. One example of this necessary tradeoff is the design of the rectangular cold volume enclosures. The solution will have to be thin walled to maximize usable volume, an excellent thermal insulator, low density, and low cost. An effective and lightweight approach has been developed using Aspen Aerogels, Inc?s nanostructured aerogel materials. AAI?s patent pending, composite aerogels are a new class of extremely low density materials that offer highly unusual design, mechanical and thermal properties. The combination of nanometer scale pore structure and very low density appear be ideally suited for thermal insulation in weight sensitive applications such as spacecraft. The flexibility of the materials will enable enclosure designers to minimize and in some cases eliminate seam leakage. The resulting AAI aerogel product would have a lower density, cost, thermal conductivity, and therefore energy usage compared to current SOA solutions. Other design possibilities are discussed that may further minimize the energy usage of the cold volume enclosure.

Practical and effective design concepts suitable for insulation of spacecraft cold volume enclosures will have been developed and documented. Such thermal insulation designs shall be suitable not only for next generation space structures, but also for other existing space vehicles where cold storage is needed ? anywhere where cold (or warm) storage is needed. This system is relevant for NASA research aircraft, spacecraft like the Shuttle, and space structures like the International Space Station. The developed materials could be used in terrestrial applications such as large cold rooms, cryogenic pipe overwrap, and Dewar insulation.

In addition to the benefits to NASA, thermal insulation data for aerogel materials will have been developed to better characterize how these unique materials perform to mitigate thermal exposure. This information will lead to a better understanding of aerogels and how to optimize thermal enclosures for optimum protection, versatility, energy usage, and weight. Large commercial markets for these intelligent designs and materials are waiting to be served. This includes military and civilian aircraft, water heaters, commercial and residential white goods (refrigerators, dish washers, freezers, etc.), and piping insulation.

Form Printed on 09-05-02 10:10