NASA SBIR 2007 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 07-2 X11.01-9722
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Thermal Control for Surface Systems and Spacecraft
PROPOSAL TITLE: High Performance Low Mass Nanowire Enabled Heatpipe

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Illuminex Corporation
1064 New Holland Ave.
Lancaster , PA 17601 - 5606
(717) 295-3746

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Youssef Habib
1064 New Holland Ave.
Lancaster, PA 17601 - 5606
(717) 871-8971

Expected Technology Readiness Level (TRL) upon completion of contract: 8

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Heat pipes are widely used for passive, two-phase electronics cooling. As advanced high power, high performance electronics in space based and terrestrial applications produce ever increasing heat fluxes, heat pipes with improved thermal capacity are sought. Illuminex Corporation has demonstrated that using copper nanowire arrays as the wick in heat pipes increases the heat transfer capabilities. Phase I developed processing techniques to engineer copper nanowire arrays on copper sheet that were subsequently incorporated into vapor chamber style heat pipes as the wicking material at the evaporator region. In Phase II, the program will be advanced to manufacture large area copper sheets fully covered with nanowires on one side. This material will be used to construct the entire heat pipe, package and wick. This will enable the development of high performance, lightweight, low-profile (< 1 mm) heat pipes with enhanced thermal transfer properties. The decrease in weight and size is desirable for NASA space projects and will find commercial application in radar systems, servers, and portable electronic devices. The use of less material in heat pipe manufacture will result in lower production costs while the superior performance and smaller size will provide electronic system designers with greater flexibility in thermal management system design.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Heat pipes require no maintenance and consume no power, making them attractive components for cooling electronics in space vehicles, satellites, and astronaut support systems. Illuminex innovation results in size and weight reductions that are desirable for space applications. Currently, NASA is developing nuclear electric propulsion systems for long-duration space missions like the Jupiter Icy Moon Orbital mission. Heat pipes are proposed for the transfer of waste heat from the power generation systems and for use in the radiator systems used for the dissipation of the waste heat. Heat pipe thermal control technology has also been proposed for electric power generation for a lunar habitat, for the Space Solar Power Project, and spacecraft thermal control. Improved capillary pumping capabilities in zero gravity and under acceleration in nanowire heat pipes could prove valuable in space applications where gravity assisted systems are not functional.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The thermal characteristics of high-power-density CPUs in today's high-end computing applications are rapidly outpacing the cooling capabilities of commercially available strategies. The primary devices driving the market for nanowire heat pipes are high performance microprocessors. Technological advances in thermal control are needed to accommodate rising power densities in new electronic and optical devices and a steady replacement of traditional heat sinks by hybrid heat sinks with embedded heat pipes. The initial market for the nanowire array wick heat pipes will be the niche market of high end specialty heat pipes designed for military and aerospace applications including laser, radar and antenna systems. The next anticipated specialty market is thermal management in high end servers, followed by portable computers and other electronic consumer goods. Illuminex has partnered with Thermacore Inc., the largest North American manufacturer and distributor of heat pipes to bring the advanced nanowire heat pipe technology to the market.

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.

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