NASA SBIR 2004 Solicitation


SUBTOPIC TITLE:Launch Infrastructure and Operations
PROPOSAL TITLE:Aerogel Insulation to Support Cryogenic Technologies

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Aspen Aerogels, Inc.
30 Forbes Road, Building B
Northborough ,MA 01532 - 2501
(508) 691 - 1150

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Duan Li Ou
30 Forbes Road, Building B
Northborough, MA  01532 -2501
(508) 466 - 3181

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
NASA is seeking a high performance thermal insulation material for cryogenic applications in space launch development. Many of the components in cryogenic distribution systems at the launch site can be complex and require an insulation that can be formed to irregular shapes to minimize heat leak. Aerogel beads are configurable to virtually any shape and offer a lightweight insulation solution with substantial improvements over conventional insulations. Success in the commercialization of high performance insulating aerogel beads has relied on the effectiveness of converting loose beads into functional insulation components. This type of insulation component requires reasonable mechanical strength and should be able to withstand a certain degree of compression, tensile, and flexural loads. Aspen Aerogels' solution entails the use of mechanically resistant aerogel beads and a binder that does not penetrate the surface of the beads. Preliminary investigation into composite development in the Phase I effort has resulted in a net shape insulation component having excellent thermal and mechanical properties. This type of insulation component is able to fill areas that are currently inaccessible with existing insulation products. A high-performance thermal insulation composite, such as that described in this proposal, will have a significant impact in insulation technology advancement.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Aerogel bead materials with superior mechanical resilience have numerous possibilities for use in advanced cryogenic space transportation technologies, as well as other high performance insulation needs. The material has been proposed for insulating cryogenic distribution systems for applications in space transportation and insulation of miles-long cryogen transfer lines. NASA can also use the resilient bead composite insulation in various applications, from space launch vehicle propellant tanks, Space Shuttle upgrades, interplanetary propulsion and life support equipment.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Applications for Aspen Aerogels' bead composites are not restricted to NASA's field of interest. Important industry applications include transfer and storage of liquefied natural gas or for transferring crude oil beneath the ocean. The novel insulation produced could also be used for high temperature superconducting (HTS) power transmission lines that require cooling with liquid nitrogen. Aspen's hybrid aerogel beads can offer thermal management solutions for handling or transportation of various cryogens (LOX, LH2, LN2, LHe, and LNG), supporting cryogenic equipment manufacturers and suppliers. Provided low enough costs, the aerogel beads could become a commodity used in refrigerators and household freezers.

Form Printed on 08-01-05 13:52