NASA SBIR 02-1 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER:02- H3.02-8762 (For NASA Use Only - Chron: 023237 )
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Spaceport and In-Space Cryogenic Fluids, Handling, and Storage Technologies
PROPOSAL TITLE: Novel Lightweight, Low-Cost, Aerogel Materials as Insulation for Cryogenic Tanks

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)
Redouane Begag
184 Cedar Hill St.
Marlborough , MA   01752 - 3017
(508 ) 481 - 5058

Future spacecrafts require greatly improved and lighter reusable cryogenic tank insulation and TPS to achieve the ambitious goal of reducing the cost of delivering a payload to orbit by an order of magnitude. Recently, Aspen Aerogels developed a new class of flexible aerogels called "Ultra-lightweight &hard cellulose aerogel". The new aerogel is 100 times stronger and harder than regular aerogel and has density and thermal characteristics as silica aerogel (low thermal conductivity ~ 12.8 mW/m.K and low density ~ 0.04 - 0.09 g/cc). The originality of this concept is based on the low cost fabrication, the lightweight, the flexibility, and the high thermal performance of the innovative material. Moreover, our new high temperature insulation version based carbide aerogels demonstrated unparalleled high temperature oxidation resistance under oxyacelylene torch test. Aspen proposes to use these two classes of aerogels in a multilayered sandwich configuration to insulate cryogenic tanks and protect the spacecraft structure. We believe that the application of the proposed integrated TPS/Cryogenic insulation concept will satisfy all requirements to be used in cryogenic tanks and will greatly reduce the weight of the propellant tanks and the boil-off rate of the propellant (thus reduce the size of the tanks).

Ultra-lightweight cellulose and carbide aerogels will find a large number of commercial applications from the aerospace industry, military applications to high energy physics and power generation. We also anticipate considerable interest for high temperature furnace and incinerator application. Aspen Aerogels now has unparalleled depth and width of aerogel technology base, and will have large production capability in 2003 to launch the widespread and large scale commercialization of aerogels in many applications.

Successful completion of this project will lead to widespread use of cellulose aerogel insulation in cryogenic and medium temperature applications: cryogenic storage, refrigeration/freezer/cryogenic preservation systems, feedlines and space suits.
Aspen Aerogels strongly believe that this new aerogel material, which has a very low cost of fabrication compare to silica aerogel, is one of the promising insulation materials for the next generation of spacecraft. Also, NASA has shown a particular interest in Aspen's carbide aerogels. The carbide aerogels are considered to be a good candidate for TPS application.

Form Printed on 09-05-02 10:10