NASA SBIR 2017 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 17-2 H10.03-9438
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Cryogenic Purge Gas Recovery and Reclamation
PROPOSAL TITLE: Helium and Hydrogen Mixed Gas Separator

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Reactive Innovations, LLC
2 Park Drive, Unit 4
Westford, MA 01886 - 3525
(978) 692-4664

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Mr. Benjamin Slote
2 Park Drive, Unit 4
Westford, MA 01886 - 3525
(978) 692-4664

CORPORATE/BUSINESS OFFICIAL (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Dr. Michael Kimble
405 S. Lincoln Ave., Suite B209
Steamboat Springs, CO 80487 - 8934
(970) 846-0547

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

Technology Available (TAV) Subtopics
Cryogenic Purge Gas Recovery and Reclamation 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)

This product innovation is directed toward separating hydrogen from helium gas mixtures using a micro-channel separation unit with thin walls of a palladium-silver alloy. The micro-channels are produced in a size range of 100-200 microns such that the boundary layer thickness inside is drastically reduced when mixtures of helium and hydrogen gas flow through the channels. This thin boundary layer enhances the thermal and mass transport fluxes to the channel walls increasing the separation rate.  With this micro-channel approach, the membrane surface area to volume ratio is maximized reducing the operating costs and capital costs for the unit.

The present cryogenic separation process for this helium-hydrogen gas mixture is energy intensive, and newer demonstrations using proton-exchange membrane based separation processes are difficult and costly to scale to the size needed to process this large quantity of gas. Accordingly, Reactive Innovations is developing a metal membrane based micro-channel separation unit that is readily scalable and inexpensive to produce and operate. The micro-channel separation technology maximizes the separation area per unit volume giving enhanced thermal and mass fluxes to separate hydrogen from the helium mixture.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration uses substantial quantities of helium gas to purge hydrogen from fuel lines during spacecraft launches, rocket engine testing, and other processes at NASA facilities. A typical shuttle launch used about a million cubic feet of helium where six times this amount is expected for the space launch system and multipurpose crew vehicle launches. This helium gas contaminated with hydrogen is expensive and energy intensive to purify and recover. Because of helium shortages and rising prices, cost effective recovery and reclamation of helium from hydrogen-helium gas mixtures is of great economic significance to NASA and to the nation.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Beyond NASA's use, helium is an important irreplaceable inert gas used in a variety of scientific and industrial fields such as oil and gas detectors, the nuclear industry, medical applications, cryogenics, and welding. However, due to the growing demand for helium, the market supply is becoming tighter and costs are increasing. Currently, cryogenic distillation and pressure-swing adsorption are the prevalent methods widely used for helium separation, especially in natural gas feedstocks. The cryogenic distillation and pressure-swing separation methods involve complicated operations and require considerable energy consumption. Thus, there is an urgent need to develop simple, low-energy, and low-cost methods for separating helium from other gases. Other potential uses for this separator unit include removing hydrogen from natural gas processing plants, and separating helium-hydrogen mixtures used in medical MRI imaging, semiconductor processing, welding, and nuclear processes.

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.)
Coatings/Surface Treatments
Launch Engine/Booster
Material Handing & Packaging
Sources (Renewable, Nonrenewable)
Spacecraft Design, Construction, Testing, & Performance (see also Engineering; Testing & Evaluation)
Spacecraft Main Engine

Form Generated on 03-05-18 17:24