NASA SBIR 2002 Solicitation

FORM B - SBIR PROPOSAL SUMMARY


PROPOSAL NUMBER:02-II B1.01-9762 (For NASA Use Only - Chron: 022237 )
PHASE-I CONTRACT NUMBER: NAS3-03008
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Exploiting Gravitational Effects for Combustion, Fluids, Synthesis, and Vibration Technology
PROPOSAL TITLE: Void Fraction Sensor for Packed-Bed Reactors in Microgravity

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN: (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/ZIP, Phone)
Creare Inc.
Etna Rd., P.O. Box 71
Hanover , NH   03755 - 0071
(603 ) 643 - 3800

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER: (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/ZIP, Phone)
Christopher J. Crowley
cjc@creare.com
Etna Rd., P.O. Box 71
Hanover , NH   03755 - 0071
(603 ) 643 - 3800

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (LIMIT 200 WORDS)
The innovative product from this project is an instrument to measure void fraction in packed-bed reactors using an impedance-based approach. As NASA pursues long-duration crewed missions, it will be necessary to adapt packed-bed chemical processing methods to reduced gravity to minimize the mass and volume of consumables hauled from earth. To develop design tools, accurate measurement of void fraction is critical to (1) identify the flow regimes, and (2) quantify the liquid holdup. Opaque reactor beds and conductive working liquids render various traditional void fraction measurements impractical. Advantages of impedance-based measurements include: excellent sensitivity to void fraction, non-intrusive installation, and high rates of data sampling. In Phase I we demonstrated that our approach can meet the need with a prototypical packed-bed geometry and a conductive liquid. Our results prove a sensor configuration, demonstrate a signal-conditioning approach, and show that electrical impedance measurements in a packed-bed configuration can be correlated readily to void fraction for both steady-state and transient two-phase flows. During Phase II we will develop purpose-built electronics, adapt the sensor mechanical design to the configuration of packed-bed facilities, and demonstrate a prototype with packed-bed facilities like those used in NASA research projects.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATION(S) (LIMIT 150 WORDS)
Long-duration, crewed space activities depend upon the development of packed-bed reactors for regenerative life support systems for extraction, absorption, humidification, leaching, etc. Development of design tools for microgravity packed-bed reactors depends upon knowledge of the void fraction. No simple, non-intrusive, fast-response instrument exists to measure void fraction in packed-beds. We can deliver an instrument to measure temporal and spatial variations of void fraction applicable to NASA research, including current microgravity aircraft and planned International Space Station experiments. In addition to this primary application, the same innovative electronics approach that will enable operation with conductive fluids will also optimize the sensor performance with cryogenic fluids. NASA has many obvious potential applications for this technology in propellant transfer applications and in the operation of systems that use these fluids.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA APPLICATION(S) (LIMIT 150 WORDS)
A void fraction instrument capable of being used with conductive fluids has numerous industrial and research applications in many areas including chemical processing facilities, biotechnology, and pharmaceutical manufacturing. There are a host of industrial and aerospace applications where this capability is needed.


Form Printed on 10-03-03 11:34