NASA SBIR 2008 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 08-2 X7.01-9013
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Cryogenic Storage for Space Exploration Applications
PROPOSAL TITLE: Load Responsive MLI: Thermal Insulation with High In-Atmosphere and On-Orbit Performance

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Quest Product Development Corporation
4900 Iris Street
Wheat Ridge, CO 80033 - 2215
(303) 670-5088

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Scott A Dye
4900 Iris Street
Wheat Ridge, CO 80033 - 2215
(303) 670-5088

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

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Lightweight, high performance thermal insulation is critical to NASA's next generation Exploration spacecraft. Zero or low cryogenic propellant boiloff is required during extended missions and lengthy on-orbit times. Heat flow through multilayer insulation is usually the largest heat leak in cryogenic systems, so improvements are desirable. Load Responsive Multi-Layer Insulation (LRMLI) is an innovative new technology using micro-molded polymer dynamic spacers that provide high performance insulation both in-atmosphere and on-orbit.

LRMLI under atmospheric pressure compresses dynamic spacers to support an integrated, thin vacuum shell for high performance in-atmosphere operation, and disconnects the spacers during on-orbit/lunar surface operation to reduce heat leak and provide ultra-high performance thermal insulation.

LRMLI was successfully proven feasible in Phase I work, reaching TRL4. A LRMLI prototype was built and tested and a 3-layer, 0.25" thick blanket demonstrated 7.1 W/m2 (0.19 mW/m-K) heat leak for on-orbit and 14.3 W/m2 (0.34 mW/m-K) for in-atmosphere operation. Equal heat leak on-orbit of a 0.25" LRMLI blanket (2.1 kg/m2) would require 16" of SOFI (15 kg/m2), with LRMLI having a 64X advantage in thickness and a 7X advantage in mass.

LRMLI insulation can provide superior cryogen insulation during ground hold, launch and on-orbit/vacuum conditions without need for purge. Total heat gain into cryogenic systems could be substantially reduced. Terrestrial non-NASA applications include LH2 powered aircraft and cars in development.

This proposal is to further develop LRMLI toward commercialization. Tasks proposed include a study of both NASA& non-NASA applications to select two for further optimization, next generation design of dynamic spacers and modular vacuum shells, and building and testing prototypes in realistic environments such as a 3' diameter cryotank similar to a selected use like NASA Altair or Boeing HALE tanks.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Lightweight, high performance thermal insulation is critical to NASA's next generation spacecraft. Zero or low cryogenic propellant boiloff is required during extended missions. Load Responsive Multi-Layer Insulation (LRMLI) could provide high performance cryopropellant thermal insulation both in-atmosphere (pre-launch and ascent) and on-orbit for NASA Exploration EDS and Altair vehicles. Current insulation uses MLI, or SOFI/MLI, with purge systems. LRMLI could reduce thickness, mass and purge needs, provide lower heat leak than SOFI or purged conventional MLI systems, and is a more robust insulation system.

LRMLI has a unique ability to provide high performance thermal performance during ground hold, launch and on-orbit operation. It can provide substantially lower total mission heat gain, helping enable longer LEO and lunar surface missions.

LRMLI could provide insulation for cryogenic systems on space instruments, satellites, spacecraft cabins, lunar surface habitats and LH2 powered aircraft. LRMLI might provide micrometeorite protection. LRMLI could provide high performance insulation with adjustable thickness, mass and thermal conductance to fit mission requirements, with inherent control of layer dimension and spacing, more predictable performance, and a robust structure.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Terrestrial non-NASA applications of LRMLI are numerous since LRMLI operates efficiently in-atmosphere. LH2 powered aircraft are in design, with a critical aspect LH2 storage. A trade study found LRMLI the best choice with lower mass and heat leak than SOFI or MLI with heavy vacuum shell. LH2 powered cars are in development and would also benefit from LRMLI.

Extremely efficient thermal insulation has use in a broad range of non-aerospace markets, including commercial applications such as cryogenic vessels & pipes in scientific and industrial applications. A major use is insulating cryogen dewars used in research, medical (personal LOX tanks) and industry, and insulating superconducting devices for MRI and high energy physics.

Other potential applications include large commercial tanks, industrial boilers and hot and cold process equipment, refrigerated trucks/trailers, insulated tank, container and rail cars, liquid hydrogen fuel cells, appliances such as refrigerators and freezers, hot water heaters, mobile containers to keep foods hot or cold, marine refrigeration, potentially even thin insulation panels for buildings. Refrigerator/freezers and water heater appliances, alone, are a large market that could benefit from superior insulation with improved energy efficiency.

We have had discussions with dewar, refrigerator/freezer, vacuum insulated pipe and building insulation panel manufacturers, who have shown interest in this insulation technology.

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
Propellant Storage
Thermal Insulating Materials

Form Generated on 08-03-09 13:26