NASA SBIR 2011 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 11-2 X10.01-9295
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Cryogenic Fluid Management Technologies
PROPOSAL TITLE: Thin Aerogel as a Spacer in Multi-Layer Insulation for Cryogenic Space Applications

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Aspen Aerogels, Inc.
30 Forbes Road, Building B
Northborough, MA 01532 - 2501
(508) 691-1161

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Nancy Moroz
30 Forbes Road, Building B
Northborough, MA 01532 - 2501
(508) 691-1161

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 3
End: 5

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Cryogenic fluid management (CFM) is a critical technical area that is needed for the successful development for future space exploration. A key challenge is the storability of LH2, LCH4, and LOX propellants for long durations. The storage tanks must be well insulated to prevent over pressurization and venting, which lead to unacceptable propellant losses for long-duration missions to Mars and beyond. Aspen Aerogels validated the key process step for a next generation aerogel manufacturing technology to enable the fabrication of thin, low density aerogel materials. Multi-Layer Aerogel Insulation (MLAI) system prototypes were prepared using sheets of these aerogel materials that have superior thermal performance exceeding that of the current state of the art insulation for space application, MLI, across the vacuum range tested (0.01 – 100 millitorr). The exceptional properties of this system include a new breakthrough in high vacuum cryogenic thermal insulation, providing a durable material with excellent thermal performance at a reduced cost when compared to longstanding state-of-the-art MLI systems. During the Phase II Program, further refinement and qualification/system-level testing of the MLAI system will be performed for use in cryogenic storage applications.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The material developed in the Phase II effort could have a variety of applications within NASA. Thin low density aerogel material could potentially be used to insulate cryotanks and cryogen transfer pipelines for ground processing, satellite thermal management, and cryogen storage for space applications. Aspen has been in discussions with United Launch Alliance, NASA Kennedy Space Center and Yetispace to test the MLAI system on real-world tanks such as VATA or the CRYogenics Orbital TEstbed (CRYOTE). This real-world testing will be used to advance the TRL level of the insulation system from 5 (at the end of Phase II) to 6 - 7. Development and optimization of Aspen's new process of making thin and low density aerogels will greatly assist NASA to improve its insulation for cryogenic fuel tanks, cryogenic fuel transfer lines, spacesuit and internal insulation on future generations of re-usable launch vehicles.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The new insulation system from this program will also have far reaching benefits for both military and commercial applications. The potential for the use of this material exists for durable and reliable insulation systems for any cryogenic, high vacuum or thin, flexible applications including appliances, airliner fuselage, LNG fuel storage tanks and transfer lines, and apparel.

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

Form Generated on 09-03-12 17:04