NASA SBIR 2007 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 07-2 X8.03-8499
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Nuclear Surface Power
PROPOSAL TITLE: High Efficiency, High Temperature Foam Core Heat Exchanger for Fission Surface Power Systems, Phase II

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
12173 Montague Street
Pacoima, CA 91331 - 2210
(818) 899-0236

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Brian E. Williams
Pacoima, CA 91331 - 2210
(818) 899-0236

Expected Technology Readiness Level (TRL) upon completion of contract: 5

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Fission-based power systems with power levels of 30 to ≥100 kWe will be needed for planetary surface bases. Development of high temperature, high efficiency heat exchangers is critical for next-generation nuclear power and space propulsion systems. In Phase I, Ultramet and Sandia National Laboratories demonstrated the feasibility of using high surface area foam core heat exchanger technology to substantially improve the power conversion efficiency of liquid metal-to-gas high temperature heat exchangers for fission surface power systems. Preliminary design and modeling suggested a substantial improvement in the efficiency of a liquid lithium-to-helium component relative to conventional plate-fin heat exchangers, and hardware fabrication and testing demonstrated the manufacturability, performance, and simplicity of the foam-based design. Open-cell foam is a natural coolant channel that does not require extensive, expensive machining of intricate coolant passages and eliminates the need for braze-bonding or welding of numerous individual sections. Initial testing showed the ability of textured, vapor-deposited lithium-compatible coatings to be uniformly wetted by liquid lithium at low temperature. The technology has the potential to best minimize the temperature difference between the maximum lithium reactor coolant and helium working fluid temperatures, as well as to reduce system mass and volume through the use of high surface area, low density open-cell foam, and increase safety and reliability by minimizing the number of piece parts and associated joints. In Phase II, Ultramet will team with Sandia to expand on the Phase I success by performing comprehensive design and stress analysis, determining physical properties, and establishing performance through high temperature (1000 K) thermal response and flow testing of coaxial heat exchangers using the Helium Flow Loop and Liquid Metal Integrated Test System at Sandia's Plasma Materials Test Facility.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Lunar bases and colonies would be strategic assets for effective utilization of abundant lunar resources and development and testing of space technologies required for further exploration and colonization of favorable places in the solar system. A reliable power system is required to supply energy demands for life support, science, and operation. The proposed fission power system has the potential to provide the necessary high power conversion to meet surface power requirements.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
In addition to compact, high efficiency space reactors, the proposed technology could contribute to a new Department of Energy Generation IV power system that significantly lowers cost, improves passive safety, has no carbon dioxide emissions, uses an advanced, proliferation-resistant fuel cycle, and reduces nuclear waste. The foam core heat exchanger technology could also be used in ground-based power or in portable power systems for military or surveillance applications and remote deployment. Brayton components, Sterling converters, and heat pipes can all benefit from this refractory materials development effort.

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.

Nuclear Conversion

Form Generated on 10-23-08 13:36