NASA SBIR 2003 Solicitation

FORM B - PROPOSAL SUMMARY


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 03- II B1.02-8670
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Gravitational Effects on Biotechnology and Materials Sciences
PROPOSAL TITLE: Smart Crucibles and Heat Pipes

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Scott O'Dell
scottodell@plasmapros.com
4914 Moores Mill Road
Huntsville, AL 35811-1558
(256)851-7653
U.S. Citizen or Legal Resident: Yes

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (LIMIT 200 WORDS)
For materials processing experiments in microgravity, crucibles comprised of an internal ceramic liner in direct contact with a metal reinforcement are desired to maximize heat transfer. Previous work has demonstrated the advantages of reinforced crucibles for producing samples with enhanced microstructural features compared to samples processed in conventional ampoule/cartridge assemblies. However, incorporation of thermocouples is limited to either inside the crucible cavity or on the external surface of the metal reinforcement. The science requirements of several NASA investigators prevent the placement of thermocouples in these locations. In addition, a failure detection technique based on the use of krypton gas is required on some microgravity furnaces. During this investigation, "smart" crucibles are being developed that incorporate thermocouple grooves and a reservoir for krypton gas storage within the crucible wall, i.e., intimate contact between all layers is maintained. These same techniques can be used to fabricate refractory metal heat pipes where the wick/capillary structure is an integral part of the structure. Currently, a heat pipe cooled nuclear reactor concept (SAFE-400) is being considered for advanced space power and propulsion systems. Such an advanced reactor configuration would enable near-tern ambitious space exploration. During Phase II, smart crucibles and heat pipes will be fabricated.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (LIMIT 100 WORDS)
Electronics and microchip manufacturing, high temperature furnace and retort components, rocket motor throat inserts, radiation shields, heat pipes, power generation equipment, nuclear components, beam and sputter targets, automotive and aerospace engine monitoring components.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (LIMIT 100 WORDS)
Safer, thermally enhanced containment cartridges for processing materials science experiments on earth and in microgravity will be developed. In addition, the fabrication techniques developed will enable the production of smart components containing internal features and sensors for other NASA applications such as refractory metal heat pipes for advanced space power and propulsion systems, rocket nozzles, high temperature furnace components, thermal and radiation shielding, nuclear and power generation components, and thermal stir weld tools.