NASA SBIR 2017 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 171 Z10.02-9316
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Methane In-Space Propulsion
PROPOSAL TITLE: Spinning-Scroll Pump for Cryogenic Feed System

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Air Squared Inc.
510 Burbank St.
Broomfield, CO 80020 - 1604
(513) 200-3787

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Dr. Bryce Shaffer
510 Burbank St.
Broomfield, CO 80020 - 1604
(513) 238-9778

CORPORATE/BUSINESS OFFICIAL (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Robert Shaffer
510 Burbank St.
Broomfield, CO 80020 - 1604
(513) 200-3787

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

Technology Available (TAV) Subtopics
Methane In-Space Propulsion 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 innovation is an efficient, compact, lightweight, reliable, electric-driven, cryogenic spinning scroll pump (CSSP) capable of pumping liquid methane or oxygen at flows of 8-10 lbm/s. The pump will satisfy propulsion feed system needs stated in SBIR Research Topic Z10.02: Methane In-Space Propulsion. The primary goal is to develop a versatile CSSP, capable of pumping liquid or two-phase methane or oxygen at a wide range of speeds (i.e. 1,000-8,000 RPM) and a wide range of differential pressures while maintaining high reliability and a compact size.

For Cryogenic pumping, state of the art (SOA), consists of two vastly different technology options. Centrifugal turbopumps and positive displacement pumps. Turbopumps utilize an impeller-inducer combination that relies on high impeller speeds to create a differential pressure. While the high-speed operation makes turbopumps more compact, it also limits bearing life, differential pressure, and they can't handle two-phase flow. Positive displacement pumps can handle larger pressure differentials and don't have issues with two-phase flow. However, they can't achieve speeds over 3,000 RPM without bulky and high-load bearings. This typically makes positive displacement pumps larger, and consequently, less desirable for aerospace applications.

The CSSP offers the best of both options. As a positive displacement pump, it can achieve high-pressure with minimal reduction in flow and pump saturated liquids at low net-positive suction heads. Due to the spinning motion of the pump various centrifugal loads are eliminated, with reduced loading, speeds over 8,000 RPM are possible, making the design compact and lightweight. Additionally, the spinning motion of the scrolls eliminates the need for a counterbalance common in orbiting scroll designs. This further reduces weight by eliminating counterweights and eases bearing loads. Air Squared believes the proposed CSSP is a perfect fit in support of Methane In-space Propulsion.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
One of the key advantages of the proposed technology is its scalability. Not only can the speed be varied across a wide range, but the size of the unit can be changed to meet additional applications. Once the technology is proven through this Phase I, it can be modified to fit a wide range of cryogenic applications.

A small, cryogenic scroll pump would have several NASA cryo propellant applications. It would enable efficient, low boil off or zero boil off cryogenic systems by circulating cryogenic helium gas from a cryocooler to broad area thermal shields surrounding the tanks. This would eliminate the need for high-efficiency heat exchangers that are required with ambient temperature circulator pumps. The pump would also enable thermodynamic vent systems in which cryo propellants are dropped in pressure and temperature, and heat exchanged with liquid pumped in a circulation loop within the tank. NASA Marshall has done considerable work with such systems involving spray bar tank heat exchangers and destratifiers.

NASA topic Z10.02: Methane In-Space Propulsion expresses an interest in a cryogenic methane pump for high thrust in space chemical propulsion capabilities. These thrusters are critical to enable human and robotic missions to Mars and beyond. For these long duration missions, zero boil off conditions need to be achieved. Therefore, the development of cryogenic circulating pumps with long life, variable speed operation, and very low leakage are required.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
A strong demand exists for small cryogenic pumps for use in liquid hydrogen fueled aircraft. The Boeing Company and AeroViroment, Inc. have developed and flown hydrogen powered, unmanned aircraft as reconnaissance platforms. Typically, these aircraft fuel systems require the hydrogen to be delivered at a pressure of 90 PSIG. Currently, this performed by making the operating pressure of the tanks at a minimum of 90 PSIG. This results in tanks that can operate with a safety margin above this pressure. If the tanks could operate at a lower pressure, such as 30 PSIG, the tank walls could be thinner and lighter. The estimated weight savings of a pump system for the Boeing Phantom Eye hydrogen fueled aircraft is over 400 pounds per aircraft. The scroll pump is a significant contributor in increasing aircraft endurance or payload.

Another commercial application would be a liquid natural gas pump (LNG), for LNG transport. Currently, there are limited options for positive displacement LNG pumps. Progress Rail (Caterpillar Subsidiary) has already contacted Air Squared about using a positive displacement LNG scroll pump for locomotive transportation and has invested in an Air Squared, orbiting scroll type LNG pump prototype. While the size and weight aren't primary concerns, the proposed pump development could be used as an LNG fuel pump.

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.)

Form Generated on 04-19-17 12:59