NASA SBIR 2003 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 03- II A4.05-8134
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Propulsion Test Technologies
PROPOSAL TITLE: Multi-Use Non-Intrusive Flow Characterization System (FCS)

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Daniel J. Gramer
1212 Fourier Drive
Madison, WI 53717-1961
U.S. Citizen or Legal Resident: Yes

The product of the Phase II effort will be a Multi-Use Non-Intrusive Flow Characterization System (FCS) for densified, normal boiling point, and two-phase cryogenic flows, capable of accurately measuring several fluid parameters in real-time. Cryogenic fluids are ubiquitous in the aerospace industry; however, adequate flow instrumentation to support terrestrial, in-space, and planetary operations is currently unavailable. FCS was originated to address this issue and greatly enhance the quantification, reliability, and safety of propulsion test operations, as well as reduce operational expenses. FCS will also play a significant role in initiatives for the exploration of the Moon and Mars through supporting the design, development, and operation of gravity-dependant processes. FCS handles both transient and steady state flows, and can operate in the following five modes: (1) on-line analysis of fluid mixtures; (2) mass flow rate measurement; (3) temperature measurement; (4) fluid conditioning and health monitoring; and (5) model validation for a cryogenic or non-cryogenic fluid flow. The Phase II effort will develop an FCS system that has broad application throughout NASA and the rest of the aerospace community. A fully functional FCS system will be delivered to NASA/SSC upon completion of the program for use in the E1 or other facility.

There is a large market for an accurate, non-intrusive cryogenic flow sensor capable of handling a wide variety of flows and installations. Commercial aerospace companies and DoD have similar FCS applications requirements to NASA, including: ground-based flow metering and control, fluid conditioning and health monitoring, analytical model validation, applied fluid physics and microgravity research, in-space cryogenic fluid management and in-space mass quantity gauging. Examples of FCS applications include: detecting and measuring flow contaminants, determining when a system has been sufficiently chilled down; measuring and diagnosing heat leaks into fluid flow networks; and accurate metering and controlled cryogen delivery.

Accurate, non-intrusive cryogenic flow sensors have been highly sought after for decades. There is a fundamental need for the characterization and health monitoring of densified, normal boiling point, and two-phase cyrogenic flows for ground based, space, and planetary operations. FCS is being developed to serve ground test operations at SSC. As NASA's primary center for testing and proving flight worthy rocket propulsion systems, SSC would significanlty benefit from the products generated by the proposed Phase II FCS program. There are also NASA facilities and applications at KSC, GRC, MSFC, JSC, and JPL that would benefit from successful development of FCS.