NASA SBIR 2011 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 11-1 S2.03-8728
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Precision Deployable Optical Structures and Metrology
PROPOSAL TITLE: Rip-Stop Reinforced Thin Film Sun Shield Structure

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Physical Sciences, Inc.
20 New England Business Center
Andover, MA 01810 - 1077
(978) 689-0003

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
John D Lennhoff
20 New England Business Center
Andover, MA 01810 - 1077
(978) 689-0003 Extension :8156

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 3
End: 6

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
During a proposed Phase I and Phase II program, PSI will advance the TRL from 3 to 6 for the ripstop reinforcement of thin film membranes used for large deployable multi-layer structures in support of sunshades for passive thermal control and planet finding external occulters. The nanofiber based ripstop reinforcement will enhance membrane tear resistance providing protection against membrane damage during deployment or after micro-meteorite impact. Earlier ripstop research work performed under the NASA CETDP yielded a 50X increase in CP-1 membrane tear resistance and a mass increase of less than 5% for a 0.3 mil film. This low mass technology will provide these tear resistance gains while packaged into the existing launch volume or enable thinner films to be substituted with lower mass and equivalent tear resistance. A 2 mil thick Kapton film used for JWST can be replaced by a 0.3 mil ripstop reinforced CP-1 film and provide 2X improved tear resistance, but at only 15% of the 2 mil Kapton weight and volume. PSI is teamed with NeXolve Corporation to develop pilot scale (0.5 meter width) ripstop reinforcement equipment, basic Finite Element Models of the thermal, dynamic and structural influences of ripstop reinforcement, and confirm these models with fabricated and characterized reinforced CP-1 films. PSI will mature the ripstop technology so that it can be used to fabricate 5 meter sunshields during a Phase II program and provide a path to 16 m class or greater, lightweight, ambient or cryogenic flight-qualified observatory systems. PSI will fabricate a demonstration ripstop reinforced membrane on Phase I with direct scalability to a large sunshield flight system. We will show a path toward a Phase II delivery of demonstration sunshield hardware scalable to 5 meter diameter for ground test characterization. Commercialization efforts will be developed with our partner, NeXolve.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The patterned electrospinning process used to provide the ripstop reinforcement is likely to have multiple space applications to promote lighter weight membranes with robust mechanical properties. Multi-Layer Insulation (MLI) may be fabricated with thinner metallized films through the use of electrospun ripstop and eliminating the scrim. The electrospun fibers would act to prevent thermal shorts for the MLI, while reducing weight from lower film thickness and removal of the scrim. In addition, PSI has demonstrated the use of patterned electrospinning to correct optical aberrations for inflatable membrane optics. Other space applications include reinforcement for membrane systems including nanofiber filters, barrier membranes and gas diffusion electrodes. We are working with NeXolve, manufacturers of space durable films, on the proposed program. The electrospinning reinforcement could be incorporated into NeXolve's film casting line. NeXolve's may provide a customer for the electrospinning process as a value added technology for their space film business.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Many non-commercial uses of membrane technology could benefit from the nanofiber reinforcement provided by the electropun ripstop process. Separator membranes for batteries could be made thinner, while maintaining robustness and resistance to electrode shorting using electrospun reinforcement. Filters made of nanofibers, such as HEPA filters, would have high mechanical strength and lower pressure drop through the use of nanofiber ripstop. Other applications for electropsun reinforcement may include barrier membranes for chemical agents, enhanced robustness for gas separation membranes, and improved thermal film insulation. PSI has strong working relationships with Espin technologies and Donaldson Corp., both commercial manufacturers of electrospun materials and potential partners for the nanofiber reinforcement development proposed in the document.

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.)
Isolation/Protection/Shielding (Acoustic, Ballistic, Dust, Radiation, Thermal)

Form Generated on 11-22-11 13:43