NASA SBIR 2008 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 08-1 X4.05-9108
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Composite Structures - Cryotanks
PROPOSAL TITLE: A Nanocomposite Approach to Microcrack Prevention in Composite Cryotanks

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
NEI Corporation
201 Circle Drive N., Suite 102/103
Piscataway, NJ 08854 - 3723
(732) 868-3141

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Daniel Eberly
201 Circle Drive N., Suite 102/103
Piscataway, NJ 08854 - 3723
(732) 868-3141

Expected Technology Readiness Level (TRL) upon completion of contract: 1 to 2

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Nanomaterials and nanocomposites offer great potential for improvement in many applications. One such NASA application is the prevention of microcracking as well as improvement in impact strength at cryogenic temperatures of composite cryotanks/carbon fiber-reinforced filament wound composite overwrapped pressure vessels (COPVs) as used in liquid fuel propulsion systems and other related fiber-reinforced structures as used in space exploration. Replacement of the currently-used aluminum-lithium cryotanks with composite cryotanks is advantageous from a weight-saving standpoint, but these composite structures are susceptible to microcracks from long- and short-term exposure to cryogenic temperatures from fuel storage and space environments. In Phase I, we propose to demonstrate the feasibility of a novel engineered nanocomposite in a fiber-reinforced composite in order to eliminate microcracks and enhance the impact strength at cryogenic temperatures. The program is a collaborative effort with a leading developer and manufacturer of COPVs. A key aspect of the proposed program is that it combines nanoscale additives with modifications to the conventional epoxy matrix polymer structure and morphology in ways never done before. The Phase II program will build upon the Phase I demonstration effort by implementing the technology in other epoxy systems and fiber systems used in the filament winding process combined with technological advances made by our strategic partner; implementation of the technology to linerless cryotanks will be a major focus as a drop-in replacement for current aluminum-lithium cryotanks. In addition, we will implement the technology in other fiber-reinforced composite structures as may be applicable to NASA applications.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
NASA applications include lightweight composite cryotanks as a replacement to aluminum-lithium cryotanks for liquid fuel propulsion systems and storage of cryogenic fuels. These would include propellant tanks for EDS (Earth Departure Stage) and Altair lunar lander and for the Ares V cargo launch vehicle. Similar structures involving composite overwrapped pressure vessels (COPVs) as well as general structures involving fiber-reinforced composites that use commercial high-performance epoxy/fiber systems and are susceptible to cryogenic environments or varying forms of impacts would also benefit from this proposed technology.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Non-NASA commercial applications would include the use of the proposed technology in composite applications where microcrack prevention due to either cryogenic temperatures or impacts is an issue. These applications would include commercial jet aircraft, military aircraft and ground support vehicles having structures made of fiber-reinforced materials which may be susceptible to impacts or sub-ambient temperatures. Other possible applications may include lighter and safer fuel storage in automobiles and buses that run on hydrogen fuel, on-the-road transport of refrigerants such as liquid oxygen or liquid nitrogen, and self-contained breathing apparatus tanks for firefighters and homeland security. The technology is designed as an additive to commercial epoxy systems which will allow implementation in manufacturing with minimal changes to current processing.

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.

Fluid Storage and Handling
Launch and Flight Vehicle
Propellant Storage

Form Generated on 11-24-08 11:56