NASA SBIR 2010 Solicitation

FORM B - PROPOSAL SUMMARY


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 10-1 S3.04-8786
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Propulsion Systems
PROPOSAL TITLE: Ultrahigh Yield Strength Rhenium for High-Performance Combustion Chambers

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

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Arthur J. Fortini
art.fortini@ultramet.com
Ultramet
Pacoima, CA 91331 - 2210
(818) 899-0236 Extension :118

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 2
End: 4

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
The state-of-the-art material system for high-performance radiation-cooled liquid rocket engines is iridium/rhenium manufactured by chemical vapor deposition (CVD). As it has been produced for the past several years, Ultramet's CVD rhenium has a yield strength of 43 ksi and an elongation of 19%, which makes it very attractive for propulsion applications. For high-pressure applications, however, even higher yield strength, especially at elevated temperature, is desirable. To address this need, Ultramet will build upon its recent success in alloy deposition techniques. By adding easy-to-deposit alloying agents to niobium and tantalum, room temperature yield strengths were increased from 19 ksi to 69 ksi for niobium, and from 37 ksi to 98 ksi for tantalum, while still maintaining excellent ductility. At elevated temperatures, the latter alloy's yield strengths were 26 ksi at 1600oC and 15 ksi at 1800oC, which compare quite favorably to rhenium's 19 and 11 ksi at the same temperatures. In this project, a similar alloying approach will be taken with rhenium to increase its yield strength, at both ambient and elevated temperatures. Increases in the rhenium yield strength will decrease the required wall thickness and hence reduce both the weight and cost of the combustion chamber. In addition to developing and characterizing novel rhenium-based alloys, the resulting properties will be used to modify the design of the 100-lbf Ir/Re flight chambers currently manufactured by Ultramet. The cost and weight savings afforded by using the new alloy in these bipropellant engines will be calculated. Designs will also be generated for a high-pressure 100-lbf chamber for NTO/MMH and a high-pressure 5-lbf chamber for use with the advanced, non-toxic monopropellant AF-315e. This latter chamber will be fabricated using the oxide-lined iridium/rhenium architecture, but the rhenium will be replaced with the higher-yield-strength alloy selected earlier.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The technology to be developed in this project can be used in virtually any NASA flight mission because the combustion chambers can be used with either storable propellants (e.g. NTO/MMH), "green" cryogenic propellants (e.g. LOX/CH4), or advanced monopropellants (e.g. AF-315e). Because these radiation-cooled combustion chambers will be lower cost than current Ir/Re chambers and yet offer the same performance, they can be used wherever C103 niobium or Ir/Re is used today. These applications include main and attitude control engines on Earth-orbiting spacecraft in both low and geostationary orbits, main and attitude control engines on interplanetary spacecraft, and pitch and roll control engines on launch vehicles. Mars sample return missions will also benefit from this technology.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Commercial applications include apogee topping motors for commercial satellites as well as pitch and roll control motors for launch vehicles. Military applications include both primary propulsion and divert and attitude control system functions for tactical missiles and ballistic missile defense systems. Because the proposed chambers can be used with storable propellants such as NTO/MMH, they can be used as drop-in replacements for Ultramet's iridium/rhenium chambers that are currently being manufactured and flown.

TECHNOLOGY TAXONOMY MAPPING (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.)
Ceramics
Coatings/Surface Treatments
Composites
Fuels/Propellants
Maneuvering/Stationkeeping/Attitude Control Devices
Metallics
Processing Methods
Spacecraft Main Engine


Form Generated on 09-03-10 12:12