NASA STTR 2006 Solicitation


RESEARCH SUBTOPIC TITLE:Predictive Modeling Techniques for the Mechanical Behaviors of Powders, Granular Materials, and Soils
PROPOSAL TITLE:Advanced Granular System Modeling

ADDRESS:5700 Flatiron Parkway, #5701A ADDRESS:1500 Illinois Street
CITY:Boulder CITY:Golden
STATE/ZIP:CO  80301-5733 STATE/ZIP:CO  80401-1800
PHONE: (303) 443-2262 PHONE: (303) 384-2300

Rolf W Baumgartner

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT ( Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Spaceports of the future will utilize new granular materials in unique applications including insulation for cryogenic tanks and Lunar regolith processing for usable resources. New granular insulation materials such as microspheres provide the opportunity to construct and operate safe and energy-efficient cryogenic storage tanks in the future. These materials have been demonstrated in small-scale tanks; however, no basis for reliable extrapolation to larger scales currently exists. Technology Applications, Inc. and the Colorado School of Mines propose to develop Advanced Granular Systems Modeling (AGSM) software to provide for reliable predictions of detailed mechanical behavior in these applications. AGSM is an innovative approach in modeling the behavior of granular materials through modified distinct element modeling (DEM) combined with a unique experimental validation technique leading to predictions in larger (macroscale) systems currently unattainable. The Phase 1 work plan will focus on the case of microsphere-based cryogenic insulation and is expected to result in a clear correlation in predicted stress concentration trends with respect to system scale and experimental results. In Phase 2, AGSM will be developed to provide predictions of granular material behavior for other materials, containment geometries, and scales to meet the needs of NASA as well as other industrial applications.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS ( Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Alternative granular insulation such as microspheres is being considered for retrofit of NASA's liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen tanks at the Kennedy Space Center. However, there is currently insufficient information available to determine if the benefits demonstrated in small-scale tanks would be realized in NASA's cryogenic tanks repeatedly exposed to launch vibration. AGSM will allow the impacts of these factors to be assessed to allow reliable and long-lasting tank designs for energy-efficient cryogenic storage. Cryogenic storage facilities at other NASA centers will benefit as well such as at the Stennis Space Center (SSC). Cryogenic propellants are brought in by float barges and transferred to 460,000-gal LO2 and 600,000-gal LH2 storage spheres. Both the barges and the fixed storage tanks are priority candidates for refurbishment with microspheres. Lunar surface operations anticipated as part of NASA's plans to establish a permanent base on the moon will require the design and selection of excavation and processing equipment for regolith processing. AGSM will provide the designer the material properties and behavior predictions for Lunar regolith allowing effective equipment designs and operational plans.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS ( Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Cryogenic tank manufacturers and refurbishment companies are very interested in using microspheres in place of perlite insulation in cryogenic tanks and cryogenic transport trailers. Perlite has caused great problems for cryogenic tanks and over-the-road trailers in its tendency to settle and compact causing reduced thermal performance and more seriously, it can place mechanical pressure under the inner tank resulting in support breakage in some cases. Stationary cryogenic tanks refurbished with microspheres will also provide benefits in thermal performance over the life of the tank. AGSM will allow the manufacturer or remanufacturer to assess the impact of unique geometries, operating conditions, and expected environments on planned tank projects.

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.

Earth-Supplied Resource Utilization
Fluid Storage and Handling
In-situ Resource Utilization
Propellant Storage
Simulation Modeling Environment
Software Tools for Distributed Analysis and Simulation
Thermal Insulating Materials

Form Printed on 09-09-06 13:11