NASA SBIR 2011 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 11-1 A2.01-9525
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Materials and Structures for Future Aircraft
PROPOSAL TITLE: Functionally Graded Polyimide Nanocomposite Foams for Ablative and Inflatable/Flexible/Deplorable Structures

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
KAI, Inc.
6402 Needham Lane
Austin, TX 78739 - 1510
(512) 301-4170

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Joseph H Koo
6402 Needham Lane
Austin, TX 78739 - 1510
(512) 301-4170

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 1
End: 3

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
The objective of the proposed research is to develop functionally graded polyimide foams as light-weight, high performance thermal protection systems (TPS) for ablative and inflatable/flexible/deplorable structures used in space exploration missions. In the first phase of this project, we will demonstrate the feasibility of fabricating graded polyimide micro/nanocellular foam structures and characterize their insulation and ablative properties.

We propose to fabricate graded polyimide foams with density gradient that are similar to those of functionally graded PMMA foams produced at UT Austin recently, using melt processable thermoplastic polyimide films by a solid-state foaming process with supercritical CO2. Gradient polyimide foam structures with tuned thermal protection properties are unique and not available until now. The advantage of this innovative approach is two folds:

1)Functionally graded, non-homogeneous polyimide foams that allows continuous variation in macroscopic mechanical and physical properties, to tune the thermal conductivity, specific heat, density, and ablative behavior.

2)The use of melt processable polyimides and the solid-state supercritical CO2 foaming process eliminates the needs of using high boiling solvents, and the costly, tedious solvent exchange process, which is required during the making of porous aerogels from solutions.

Open-celled polyimide foams with large visible uniform pore sizes have been produced commercially, however, graded porous polyimide thin films with density gradient, open or close celled, are rare and pose more technical challenges, but can provide additional unique benefits.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Polyimide foam can be used as an insulator (such as for rocket fuels) and acoustic damper. NASA can use these functionally graded polyimide foam for ducting, duct/piping insulation, structural components, and strengthening of hollow components while remaining lightweight.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Polyimide foam is lightweight, thermal, and acoustic insulation material. It provides significant weight reductions and is inherently fire resistance, low surface burn, low smoke development, and no significant toxic offgasing. It improves appearance and no fibrous shake out as compared to fibrous materials. It usually provides less waste and faster installation which means lower installed cost. It can be use for thermal/acoustic insulation, noise transmission loss blanket, duct insulation, and duct liner applications.

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.)
Ablative Propulsion
Processing Methods
Smart/Multifunctional Materials

Form Generated on 11-22-11 13:43