NASA SBIR 2012 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 12-2 H8.03-9876
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Space Nuclear Power Systems
PROPOSAL TITLE: Low Cost Radiator for Fission Power Thermal Control

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Advanced Cooling Technologies, Inc.
1046 New Holland Avenue
Lancaster, PA 17601 - 5688
(717) 295-6061

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Calin Tarau
1046 New Holland Ave.
Lancaster, PA 17601 - 5606
(717) 295-6066

CORPORATE/BUSINESS OFFICIAL (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Jon Zuo
1046 New Holland Avenue
Lancaster, PA 17601 - 5606
(717) 295-6061

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 4
End: 7

Technology Available (TAV) Subtopics
Space Nuclear Power Systems is a Technology Available (TAV) subtopic that includes NASA Intellectual Property (IP). Do you plan to use the NASA IP under the award?

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
NASA GRC is developing fission power system technology for future space transportation and surface power applications. The early systems are envisioned in the 10 to 100kWe range and have an anticipated design life of 8 to 15 years with no maintenance. A non-nuclear system ground test in thermal-vacuum is planned by NASA GRC to validate technologies required to transfer reactor heat, convert the heat into electricity, reject waste heat, process the electrical output, and demonstrate overall system performance. This SBIR project by ACT will develop a modular single-facesheet Variable Conductance Heat Pipe (VCHP) radiator, operating near 450K, to support the Technology Demonstration Unit (TDU) for surface power. Based on the Phase I results and the experience gained during previous NASA SBIR VCHP radiator programs, ACT and VST will develop in Phase II a low cost high specific power modular radiator for the TDU. New features of this radiator include direct bonding to the titanium condenser and the fact that it is modular and therefore, the CTE mismatch on the manifold direction is eliminated. The modular radiator will consist of 12 clusters of 9 modules each. ACT will design the modular radiator, validate the radiator module, fabricate the heat pipes and test the clusters in ambient conditions before sending them to GRC. VST will further develop the GFRC direct bonding and attach the GFRC fins to all the heat pipes.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The low cost VCHP radiator developed under this Phase I and Phase II program would provide the waste heat rejection system necessary for the non-nuclear TDU to be tested at NASA GRC. Additional, longer term NASA candidate missions that the low cost VCHP radiator would support are initial power sources for human outposts on the Moon or Mars and nuclear electric propulsion systems (NEP) for Mars cargo transport. A benefit for Lunar and Martian radiators is that the VCHP can passively accommodate the large swings in environmental conditions between lunar (or Martian) day and night, including long periods at very low temperatures. In addition, the VCHP can passively accommodate large changes in thermal load, and avoid damage during periods of low thermal load. The non-condensable gas in the VCHP will also help with start-up during sudden increases in thermal load.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
There is a commercial application for high temperature VCHP heat exchangers in fuel cell reformers. In a fuel cell reformer, steam, air and diesel fuel react in a High Temperature Shift (HTS) and a Low Temperature Shift (LTS) reactor to produce as much hydrogen as possible. Feed streams to and from the reactors must be maintained under tight temperature control, typically within 30�C despite a turndown ratio of 5:1 in reactant flow rate. ACT believes that VCHP heat exchangers can replace the current heat exchanger and control system with a passive system. The VCHP heat pipes passively adjust the heat removed, to maintain the output stream at a constant temperature. The direct bonding of the single facesheet GFRC to the titanium condenser would allow low cost and mass radiators for atmospheric high altitude applications like waste heat rejection from balloon payloads or from UAV electronics.

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.)
Active Systems
Heat Exchange
Models & Simulations (see also Testing & Evaluation)
Passive Systems

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