NASA SBIR 2007 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 07-1 X5.02-8417
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Lunar Regolith Excavation and Material Handling
PROPOSAL TITLE: High Fidelity Regolith Simulation Tool for ISRU Applications

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Grainflow Dynamics, Inc
1141 Catalina Dr., PMB #270
Livermore, CA 94550 - 5928
(925) 447-4293

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Otis Walton
1141 Catalina Dr., PMB #270
Livermore, CA 94550 - 5928
(925) 447-4293

Expected Technology Readiness Level (TRL) upon completion of contract:

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
NASA has serious unmet needs for simulation tools capable of predicting the behavior of lunar regolith in proposed excavation, transport and handling systems. Current simulation tools do not include the effects of triboelectric and photo-ionization induced charges on regolith particles. Existing DEM or FE models largely focus on coarse smooth non-brittle particles and lack adequate fidelity for fine cohesive powders comprised of friable particles with irregular shapes. As such, they are inadequate for assessing the reliability of regolith excavation and handling systems, and even less so for evaluation of engineering trade offs between total system mass, power and energy consumption.

Grainflow Dynamics proposes to develop a high-fidelity DEM model incorporating a new charge-spot model for electrostatic forces arising from localized charge patches on the surfaces and in the interiors of individual particles, and also including an innovative new comprehensive cohesive-contact model. Grainflow Dynamics further proposes to demonstrate the ability of the new cohesive-contact model to mimic the compaction and dispersion behavior of lunar regolith simulants JSC-1A and JSC-1AF. This work will lead to an improved engineering design tool that can be used by NASA engineers and contractors developing designs for ISRU equipment, to evaluate reliability of various configurations, and the trade-offs of system designs.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
New high-fidelity simulation tools for charged cohesive powders would be applicable to a wide range of ISRU situations including excavation, transport, handling, platform mobility, slope stability and wheeled vehicle traction analysis. New designs in all of these areas would benefit from improved fidelity of simulation models. The ability to include the effects of charged particles and reduced gravity, and to test sensitivity of equipment designs to regolith model parameters and equipment designs can greatly assist in prioritizing regolith characterization measurements and optimizing equipment designs, once the properties of the regolith have been more accurately characterized. In addition the new charged-particle capability will greatly facilitate evaluation of various dust mitigation strategies, a critical need for manned exploration missions.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The pharmaceutical industry, has a large number of applications which would benefit from significantly-improved simulation capabilities for cohesive powders in a variety of pharmaceutical material manufacturing, transport and handling operations, including micronization, granulation, coating, blending, tableting, dosating and capsule or blister-pack filling – especially powders designed for pulmonary delivery. The FDA's Process Analytical Technology (PAT) initiative emphasizes the need for pharmaceutical makers to understand the processes they use and to design the processes for quality, reliability, robustness and consistency. Reliable tools to predict powder deformation and flow behavior would greatly facilitate the attainment of such goals.

In addition, the xerographic industry (e.g., laser printers and copiers ) could benefit from a predictive tool that could assist in design improvements for powdered toner tribocharging, transfer, and fusing. Despite 50 years of R&D, many details of the overall xerographic process are only poorly understood, and fierce competition provides motivation to seek design improvements.

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.

In-situ Resource Utilization
Manned-Maneuvering Units

Form Generated on 09-18-07 17:50