NASA SBIR 2007 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 07-2 X11.01-8439
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Thermal Control for Surface Systems and Spacecraft
PROPOSAL TITLE: Efficient Space Hardy Thermoelectric Materials with Broad Temperature Range

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Eltron Research Inc
4600 Nautilus Court South
Boulder, CO 80301 - 3241
(303) 530-0263

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Richard A. Bley
4600 Nautilus Court South
Boulder, CO 80301 - 3241
(303) 530-0263

Expected Technology Readiness Level (TRL) upon completion of contract: 6

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
The goal of this work is to develop new thermoelectric materials for use in fabricating solid state cooling devices and electrical power generators, which are 200 to 300% more efficient than current thermoelectric materials and can operate in temperatures ranging from cryogenic to 700 C. The results of our Phase I definitely indicate that we will be able to reach this goal. These materials are being made from new nano-composites, using fabrication techniques developed at Eltron.

The thermoelectric composite's matrix had already demonstrated exceptional ability for functioning in the environment of space. Used in a cooling system, these materials will provide an effective means for controlling the temperature of surfaces subject to the rapidly changing temperatures encountered in space. We have proven that this matrix works exceptionally well at providing support and allowing for convenient (and therefore economical) deposition of our materials. We have also demonstrated that the thermal conductivity in these new nano-materials has been reduced by well over an order of magnitude! In addition we have shown that we get an increase in the Seebeck Coefficient for materials we tested as well. These new thermoelectric materials can be used to prevent development of large temperature gradients and thereby prevent the mechanical stresses that accompany them. Used for power-generation, these new materials will be very efficient because of the properties that both the nano-phase materials and its matrix bring to the thermoelectric material. Because of the difficulties presented in the harsh environment of space, thermal management and power generation is most easily provided through devices that do not have any moving parts, are very durable, do not require maintenance, and operate efficiently over a wide range of temperatures. The proposed materials meet all these requirements.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
In the past, NASA's interest in thermoelectric systems has stemmed both from the need for an effective means of temperature control via the Peltier effect for surfaces exposed to the rapidly changing temperatures that occur in space, and for use in generating electrical power via the Seebeck effect for space vehicles too distant from the sun for effective use of solar panels. The new materials being developed here will be capable of withstanding both high and low temperatures and so they can be used to prevent development of large temperature gradients and the mechanical stresses that accompany them on missions such as the upcoming Mars and Venus trips. This is particularly true of the Venus landing, where materials will need to withstand up to 500 C temperatures. The improvement in efficiency possible from these materials as demonstrated during the Phase I could make them competitive with solar cells as a power source for space missions.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Development of this technology will result in considerable improvement in efficiency over currently used evaporative systems used in consumer and industrial refrigeration. This technology will also be of great value to the electronics industry. Systems incorporating this new technology will run more quietly and will produce much less pollution than current refrigeration and air conditioning systems. They will not be subject to the maintenance problems common in the compressors used today. An efficient, solid state electrical power generator that uses heat as its energy source would also result from successful development of this technology. The Boeing Company is very excited about our Phase I results and will be acting as a subcontractor in this Phase II. They will also continue to participate in this project in an advisory and reviewer capacity, as stated in their letter of support.

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.

Semi-Conductors/Solid State Device Materials
Thermoelectric Conversion

Form Generated on 10-23-08 13:36