NASA SBIR 2011 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 11-1 O2.04-8793
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Advanced Tank Technology Development
PROPOSAL TITLE: Self-healing Nanocomposites for Reusable Composite Cryotanks

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
NEI Corporation
201 Circle Drive N., Suite 102/103
Piscataway, NJ 08873 - 1154
(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 08873 - 1154
(732) 868-3141

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

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Composite cryotanks, or Composite Overwrapped Pressure Vessels (COPVs), offer advantages over currently used aluminum-lithium cryotanks, particularly with respect to weight savings. Future NASA missions are expected to use COPVs in spaceflight propellant tanks to store fuels, oxidizers, and other liquids for launch and space exploration vehicles. However, reliability and reusability of the COPVs are of concern, especially in cryogenic temperature applications; this limits adoption of COPVs in future reusable vehicle designs. The major problem with composites is the inherent brittleness of the epoxy matrix, which is prone to microcrack formation, either from exposure to cryogenic conditions or from impact from different sources. If not prevented, the microcracks can grow into larger cracks, leading to catastrophic failure and loss of function of the composite. In addition, the presence of microcracks increases gas permeation and leakage, which is undesirable in a COPV. Accordingly, materials innovations are needed to mitigate microcrack formation in composite cryotanks. In Phase I we propose to demonstrate microcrack prevention and mitigation in COPVs through the use of a novel nanocomposite matrix containing engineered nanoscale materials which will also enable self-healing of microcracks. Phase II will build upon the Phase I program to enable a TRL 5-6 working proof of concept and prototype for NASA testing, capable of long term use with high cycle performance at cryogenic temperatures.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Future NASA missions will rely on the use of composite structures as main structural members of space vehicles and composite overwrapped pressure vessels (COPVs) for spaceflight propellant tanks to store fuels, oxidizers, and other liquids for launch and space exploration vehicles. These COPVs must be able to operate at the cryogenic conditions imposed by typical propellants, liquid oxygen (90?K) and liquid methane (110?K). NASA applications for the research proposed herein include: earth-based and space-based cryogenic storage vessels (e.g. cryogenic fuel storage for first stage and upper stage launch vehicles including Crew Exploration Vehicles); long system life cryogenic storage that is both reliable and safe and would perform well beyond the current vessel design life (e.g. orbiting space fuel depots); and space-based habitat structures that are manufactured using fiber-reinforced composite materials.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The aerospace and the commercial communities have shown significant interest in using COPVs for cryogenic and non-cryogenic applications. Non-NASA commercial applications for the research proposed include the following: Liquid hydrogen fuel cells in terms of increased safety and reliability; vehicular cryo-compressed gas storage of hydrogen and natural gas which dramatically increases the fuel storage density thus increasing the amount of fuel that can be stored in a vehicle; environmentally-friendly and safer earth-based cryogenic fluid storage where the composite structures will not need painting, stripping, and repainting in order to prevent corrosion as does current metal/steel construction and are also easier to transport due to their light-weight nature; and interest in the marine transport of propane via tanker ships where very large (5300 m3) COPVs will be needed.

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.)
Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Propulsion
Launch Engine/Booster
Spacecraft Main Engine

Form Generated on 11-22-11 13:43