NASA SBIR 2014 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 14-1 Z1.01-9820
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Advanced Photovoltaic Systems
PROPOSAL TITLE: Flexible Automation for Final Assembly of Blanket Arrays

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
VectorSum, Inc.
18 Technology, Suite 139
Irvine, CA 92618 - 2311
(949) 679-3950

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Hugh Cook
18 Technology, Suite 139
Irvine, CA 92618 - 2311
(949) 679-3950

CORPORATE/BUSINESS OFFICIAL (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Hugh Cook
18 Technology, Suite 139
Irvine, CA 92618 - 2311
(949) 679-3950

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 3
End: 4

Technology Available (TAV) Subtopics
Advanced Photovoltaic 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)
In Topic Z1.01, NASA seeks advanced photovoltaic technologies that can deliver cost, reliability, mass, volume and efficiency gains over current solutions. Future photovoltaic systems range in size from Cubesat-class to International Space Station sized arrays. Operational domains range from low Earth orbit to interplanetary distances. Power levels may reach 100's of kilowatts operating at several hundred volts. Specific power of greater than 130 w/kg, and stowed volumes 4 times denser than the current state of the art are required. These functional parameters drive the need for large flexible blanket arrays comprised of solar cell modules assembled in myriad configurations. Manufacturers of flexible solar arrays currently use manual processes to accomplish final assembly. NASA's cost and reliability goals require new approaches to manufacturing. Building on recent successes in flexible substrate photovoltaics, our proposed effort creates a preliminary design for an automated final assembly manufacturing cell for flexible blanket solar arrays. Modular, scalable, and flexible, the proposed system incorporates the latest in machine vision, material handling, laser welding, and automated test capabilities. When fully implemented in Phase II, the system will deliver immediate return on NASA's investment through labor reductions and reliability improvements. Missions from across NASA's entire portfolio will benefit from the significant cost savings, allowing fiscal resources to be focused on the primary scientific or operational goal.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
NASA satellites require power to perform their functions. The average satellite devotes 30% of its mass to the power system. Complex missions operating farther from Earth and the sun require new developments in power generation to reduce weight and size, while providing increased power. For this reason, NASA is a robust investor in new solar array technology, including flexible substrate solar arrays. Flexible arrays have been developed and used on high-visibility NASA mission for decades, including the International Space Station, Hubble, and the Orion CEV. Flexible blanket arrays were also used on EO-1, Terra, and the planned ST8 mission under the New Millennium program. Currently, NASA's is investing in flexible solar array technology under the Solar Electric Propulsion technology demonstration project. Challenges remain. As quoted in the Space Power and Energy Storage Roadmap published by NASA in April of 2012: "Cost will be a major driver for large PV power systems. Cost reduction can be addressed through reducing cell cost, modularity of solar cell panels, improved manufacturability, and repairability." NASA has stated that at least half of the cost of flexible substrate solar arrays derives from touch labor. In this effort, we will focus on automatic robotic manufacturing of flexible substrate solar arrays to achieve large reductions in cost.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Numerous non-NASA commercial applications exist for the proposed flexible automation system proposed. Companies like Ascent Solar, Natcore Technology and SoloPower have all demonstrated their ability to make and sell flexible substrate solar power systems. The primary markets served include building products, consumer electronics & off-grid applications, and vehicles & transportation. The Naval Research Laboratory invests in flexible substrate solar power systems designed for tactical military situations. The DoD sees huge potential logistical benefits from making better use of solar energy in forward locations. Flexible substrate solar arrays are being investigated for integration into articles of clothing, which will certainly require an automated assembly manufacturing. It is also worth noting that all commercial terrestrial solar power systems are currently assembled by automation. For these reasons, we are confident that the investment will yield tangible benefits in the small business, renewable energy, manufacturing sector.

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.)
Image Analysis
Image Capture (Stills/Motion)
Image Processing
Joining (Adhesion, Welding)
Lasers (Cutting & Welding)
Machines/Mechanical Subsystems
Manufacturing Methods
Microfabrication (and smaller; see also Electronics; Mechanical Systems; Photonics)
Robotics (see also Control & Monitoring; Sensors)

Form Generated on 04-23-14 17:37