NASA SBIR 2005 Solicitation


SUBTOPIC TITLE:Launch Site Technologies
PROPOSAL TITLE:Autonomous, Cryogenic Leak Detector for Improving Launch Site Operations

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Innosense LLC
2531 West 237th Street, Suite 127
Torrance, CA 90505-5245
(310) 530-2011

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Kisholoy   Goswami
2531 West 237th Street, Suite 127
Torrance, CA  90505-5245
(310) 530-2011

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Spaceports, spacecrafts for planetary missions, future projects on the moon and mars ? they all need to monitor mission critical propellants. This project established the feasibility of a tapered optical fiber-based sensor (TOFS) that can be fitted into narrow orifices of plumbing junctions to detect the leakage of cryogenic fluids such as hydrogen. Complete reversibility and response/recovery time of less than 30 seconds for the hydrogen sensor were demonstrated in Phase I. Scanning electron microscope (SEM) images confirmed that the sensor suffered no degradation upon soaking in liquid nitrogen (LN2, 77 K). Tests with LH2 will be conducted in Phase II. The underlying sensor technology will support NASA goal of reducing vehicle and payload cost, and increase safety of operations by measuring hydrogen in real-time and in situ. A prototype device will be engineered, field-tested and delivered to NASA in Phase II establishing technical maturity approaching TRL 6. InnoSense LLC has received a strong endorsement letter from a major Aerospace company in support of the project. InnoSense LLC has also received Phase III follow-on funding commitment totaling $500,000 from commercialization partners. An engineering team having 80 person-years of cumulative experience in developing commercially viable products has been assembled for this project.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
NASA and its contractors will benefit from this project. Currently, Mass spectrometer (MS) is widely used on and around launch vehicles to detect hazardous gas. An MS can detect gases with ultrahigh sensitivity, specificity, and speed. MS requires a skilled operator, an air-conditioned room, vibration free environment, and frequent calibrations. Samples are brought to the instrument creating a time lag for leak detection. During intense solar activity, an MS can experience an "overload" condition, leading to a possible malfunction at a critical time. The real time and in situ measurement capabilities of the TOFS system will complement mass spectrometer. TOFS will also be able to phase out MS for exploratory missions. The entry market for the hydrogen sensor includes the spaceport facilities. Hydrogen is stored and transported in pressure vessels or transmitted by pipeline to the point of end-use. Being a very small molecule, hydrogen is prone to leakage through seals and joints, and even through the pipeline material (hydrogen-induced embrittlement). This leakage creates an explosive atmosphere for concentrations between 4% (v/v) ? the lower explosive limit (LEL) and 74.5% (v/v) ? the upper explosive limit (UEL) at room temperature and pressure. Early detection of hydrogen leakage, therefore, is of extreme importance for reasons of safety, reliability, and economy.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Other applications for downstream market entry include: (a) Stationary fuel cells, (b) Vehicular fuel cells, (c) Portable fuel cells, and (d) Process control industries. InnoSense LLC recognizes that each application holds potential for successful market entry, and we plan to pursue these markets. The hydrogen sensor market is still emerging. The transition from fossil fuel into a hydrogen economy could push the $120,000,000 market today into annual sales as high as $1,800, 000,000 by 2010 for hydrogen safety sensing according to current available estimates. Hydrogen feed stock sensors, needed to manage gas flow and purity, will further increase the demand for sensors. Consulting the Thomas Register, a business directory, we have identified 119 companies in North America engaged in the production, storage and transportation of hydrogen gas. These companies would be our potential customers for the downstream market. The hydrogen economy represents a growth market, and at present, there is no market leader. New customers and competitors are expected to enter the market constantly. Because TOFS incorporates innovative technology, we expect our market penetration to be slow initially. Over a five year period, we expect our market share to be 60% overall.

NASA's technology taxonomy has been developed by the SBIR-STTR program to disseminate awareness of proposed and awarded R/R&D in the agency. It is a listing of over 100 technologies, sorted into broad categories, of interest to NASA.

Air Revitalization and Conditioning
Aircraft Engines
Airlocks/Environmental Interfaces
Airport Infrastructure and Safety
Architectures and Networks
Autonomous Control and Monitoring
Biomolecular Sensors
Computational Materials
Control Instrumentation
Data Acquisition and End-to-End-Management
Earth-Supplied Resource Utilization
Energy Storage
Expert Systems
Feed System Components
Fluid Storage and Handling
Fundamental Propulsion Physics
High Energy Propellents (Recombinant Energy & Metallic Hydrogen)
Human-Computer Interfaces
In-situ Resource Utilization
Launch Assist (Electromagnetic, Hot Gas and Pneumatic)
Launch and Flight Vehicle
Mission Training
Multifunctional/Smart Materials
On-Board Computing and Data Management
Operations Concepts and Requirements
Optical & Photonic Materials
Photovoltaic Conversion
Pilot Support Systems
Portable Data Acquisition or Analysis Tools
Portable Life Support
Power Management and Distribution
Propellant Storage
Renewable Energy
Semi-Conductors/Solid State Device Materials
Sensor Webs/Distributed Sensors
Simulation Modeling Environment
Sterilization/Pathogen and Microbial Control
Structural Modeling and Tools
Telemetry, Tracking and Control
Testing Facilities
Testing Requirements and Architectures
Waste Processing and Reclamation

Form Printed on 07-25-06 17:04