NASA SBIR 2003 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER:03-F3.06-7403 (For NASA Use Only - Chron: 035604)
SUBTOPIC TITLE:Propellant Depots and In-Space Cryogenic Fluids, Handling and Storage
PROPOSAL TITLE:Fiber Optic Sensor System for Cryogenic Fuel Measurement

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Lake Shore Cryotronics Inc
575 McCorkle Blvd.
Westerville ,OH 43082 - 8699
(614) 891 - 2243

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Philip R. Swinehart
575 McCorkle Blvd.
Westerville ,OH  43082 -8699
(614) 891 - 2243
U.S. Citizen or Legal Resident: Yes

This SBIR Phase I project will address the feasibility of using a fiber Bragg grating array as a means of detecting liquid and slush hydrogen in gravity and zero gravity environments. Fiber optic Bragg grating sensors offer the advantages of a single fiber feed through into the cryogenic vessel for reliability and the ability to multiplex many sensors on a fiber in order to locate a liquid level or a floating mass. The detected parameter will be the differences in the thermal properties of the three hydrogen phases. Methods will be developed to extend the sensitivity of the Bragg grating sensors to at least ten Kelvins. In Phase I, the signal processing for each sensor in a short array will be performed using a robust tunable laser and a curve-fitting algorithm. The feasibility of the method will be demonstrated by using a four-sensor array to detect levels of liquid nitrogen and a single point sensor calibrated to 10K to demonstrate low temperature sensitivity. In Phase II, an array of 50 sensors will be demonstrated and advanced signal processing will be developed. The ability of the tunable laser to withstand launch stresses will be tested.

A Bragg grating-based cryogenic liquid level sensor array will fulfill an immediate need for NASA and non-NASA space programs where there is a requirement for high reliability cryogenic fuel measurement in various gravity environments. Ground production and storage of cryogenic fuels will also benefit. The same basic technology can be extended to other fly-by-light applications such as temperature, pressure and jet fuel flow.

As in NASA aerospace craft, commercial and military aircraft also can benefit from fly-by-light technology for the measurement of temperature, pressure and fuel flow because of the advantages of light weight, immunity from electromagnetic interference and explosion proof nature. Other applications include level and temperature measurements in alternative energy generation (Tokamaks ), superconducting energy peak shaving (SMES)mass transit ( Maglev) and other applications that require operation at low temperatures or in explosive and severe electromagnetic interference conditions. Markets will include liquid natural gas tanks to give accurate fuel content measurements