NASA SBIR 2015 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 15-1 H2.02-9359
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Nuclear Thermal Propulsion (NTP)
PROPOSAL TITLE: Extreme Temperature Radiation Tolerant Instrumentation for Nuclear Thermal Propulsion Engines

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Arkansas Power Electronics International, Inc.
535 West Research Center Boulevard
Fayetteville, AR 72701 - 6959
(479) 443-5759

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Mr. John Fraley
535 W. Research Center Blvd.
Fayetteville, AR 72701 - 6959
(479) 443-5759 Extension :8240

CORPORATE/BUSINESS OFFICIAL (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Mrs. Sharmila Mounce
535 West Research Center Boulevard
Fayetteville, AR 72701 - 6959
(479) 443-5759 Extension :8120

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 4
End: 5

Technology Available (TAV) Subtopics
Nuclear Thermal Propulsion (NTP) 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)
The objective of this proposal is to develop and commercialize a high reliability, high temperature smart neutron flux sensor for NASA Nuclear Thermal Propulsion (NTP) systems. Arkansas Power Electronics International (APEI) and International Femtoscience (FemtoSci) technology offers the following:

(1) 600+ degC ambient operation of a full wireless smart sensor system
(2) Extreme-environment electronics utilizing wide band gap integrated circuits and advanced magnetic components
(3) CVD nano-diamond neutron flux sensor for near-core measurements, capable of operation to >700 degC
(4) Harsh environment packaging technologies to ensure reliable operation at 700 degC
(5) Radiation hard, high temperature electronics will offer high reliability nuclear propulsion instrumentation, as well as provide solutions for terrestrial nuclear power generation instrumentation.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The United States' National Space Policy specifies that NASA shall begin sending crewed missions beyond the moon by 2025, and sending crewed missions to Mars by mid-2030s. In order to accomplish these tasks, nuclear thermal rockets have been identified as the propulsion system of choice; the technology proposed here would find extensive application in the field of nuclear powered space flight. The smart neutron sensor can enable increased safety, efficiency, and control for nuclear thermal propulsion engines. Additionally, this technology will be applicable for fission surface power systems. These power systems utilize nuclear fission to generate electricity, and are intended for use in environments where solar power is not a viable option, such as a Martian outpost, or where the weight of solar cells would greatly increase the cost of a surface power station, such as a lunar outpost. The neutron smart sensor can again find application in these harsh environments, where their installation could again address the safety and control concerns for the nuclear power plant.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
In nuclear power plants, a neutron monitoring system is used to monitor power generation and, for the safety function of the neutron monitoring system, to provide trip signals to the reactor protection system to initiate reactor scram under an excessive neutron flux increase condition or neutron flux fast rising condition. The system also provides power information for the operation and control of the reactor to the plant process computer system. Newer nuclear power plant designs have increasing reactor temperatures and neutron flux rates; for example, the Generation IV type reactors contain the Very-High Temperature Reactor (VHTR), which is graphite moderated and helium cooled. The reactor outlet temperature on such designs may approach 1000 degC, as soon as the appropriate materials technology has been developed to accommodate the increasingly harsh environment. Such high temperature reactors will need to have a neutron monitoring system as well, and the DND smart sensor system can find many applications here, replacing current lower temperature neutron sensing solutions.

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.)
Analytical Instruments (Solid, Liquid, Gas, Plasma, Energy; see also Sensors)
Chemical/Environmental (see also Biological Health/Life Support)
Circuits (including ICs; for specific applications, see e.g., Communications, Networking & Signal Transport; Control & Monitoring, Sensors)
Condition Monitoring (see also Sensors)
Spacecraft Instrumentation & Astrionics (see also Communications; Control & Monitoring; Information Systems)
Telemetry (see also Control & Monitoring)
Telemetry/Tracking (Cooperative/Noncooperative; see also Planetary Navigation, Tracking, & Telemetry)

Form Generated on 04-23-15 15:37