NASA SBIR 2010 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 10-2 X2.03-9748
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Nuclear Thermal Propulsion
PROPOSAL TITLE: Extreme Environment SiC Wireless Sensor Suite for Nuclear Thermal Propulsion Engines

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Arkansas Power Electronics International, Inc.
535 West Research Center Boulevard, Suite 209
Fayetteville, AR 72701 - 6959
(479) 443-5759

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Jie Yang
535 West Research Center Boulevard, Suite 209
Fayetteville, AR 72701 - 6959
(479) 443-5759 Extension :8280

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 4
End: 6

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
There are a number of critical telemetry measurements to be monitored under continuous field operation, including temperature data across the reactor chamber and the nozzle, pressure data, neutron flux density and flow rate of the propellant. Real-time monitoring of this data in nuclear thermal engines would greatly improve operational safety and performance, reduce operational costs, and significantly impact maintenance costs and reliability. Even though some extreme environment sensors become available recently, it is still impossible to directly and accurately measure the critical operational parameters of NTP engines due to the lack of extreme environment electronics for those sensors. Data from extreme environment sensors is delivered via wire-line to an external actively cooled electronics box, where it is processed. This approach presents significant drawbacks such as the need for complex shielded wiring harnesses that not only are heavy but also limit sensor location and signal quality (i.e., signal to noise ratio). Additionally, these systems suffer from reliability issues due to wiring connections.
In this Phase II SBIR, APEI, Inc. will build on the successful demonstration of high temperature wireless transmitter designs during Phase I, to deliver a set of SiC based, integrated wireless sensor-transmitter suites for extreme temperature operation (450 Deg C) in NTP engines. These sensor suites will allow for the real–time monitoring of critical engine components, reducing the risk of catastrophic failure and decreasing the inherent risk associated with NTP operation. The final wireless sensor systems will be fully integrated into an autonomous 'drop-in' solution for advanced sensing systems, including wireless energy harvesting.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The first market for this technology will be in the health monitoring systems of NASA space exploration vehicles, including spacecraft, rockets, and aircraft. There are a wide range of NASA applications in which this technology could significantly improve reliability, performance and/or reduce costs of operation. Extreme environment capable SiC electronics will eliminate (or reduce) the need for thermal shielding, and active cooling systems, reducing size, weight, and the complexity of the control systems.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The immediate application of the proposed hash environment SiC wireless sensor suite will be the health monitoring of turbine engine for both military and commercial aircraft. The ability to have embedded sensors (in both aircraft and spacecraft) that can detect temperature, strain, vibration, cracks, etc. will provide much needed engine health status as well as prognosis for possible or eminent in-flight failures. This technology will enable nearly continuous on-board situational awareness of the vehicle health state for use by the flight crew, ground crew, and maintenance depot, and contribute to the reduction of aircraft system and component failures and malfunctions that cause and contribute to aircraft accidents and incidents.
Another promising application of this technology resides in power generation industry, including both nuclear power generation and gas turbine power generation. By introducing high temperature sensors and wireless transmitters into the gas turbine units (specifically within the blades where temperatures range from 450 to 1200 Deg C) and gathering, transmitting, and monitoring the obtained data sets in real-time, very accurate turbine conditions can be determined. Under such cases where the turbine internal systems conditions are known in detail, maintenance will be performed on an as needed basis, as opposed to the costly regularly scheduled downtimes.

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.)
Circuits (including ICs; for specific applications, see e.g., Communications, Networking & Signal Transport; Control & Monitoring, Sensors)
Condition Monitoring (see also Sensors)
Health Monitoring & Sensing (see also Sensors)
Ionizing Radiation
Process Monitoring & Control
Telemetry (see also Control & Monitoring)

Form Generated on 12-15-11 17:36