NASA 1998 SBIR Phase I


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 98-1 08.03-4242

PROJECT TITLE: Cost-Effective Integrated Miniature Furnace Body and Sample Contaminant Fabrication Method

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (LIMIT 200 WORDS)

Using a proprietary graded porous net shape sapphire fabrication process, Foster-Miller will prove the feasibility of producing a compact furnace with an integrated sample containment system to allow fast, inexpensive microgravity experiments. A working demonstration furnace with a thermal shock resistant structure, built-in heating elements and suitable electrical connections will be fabricated and tested in Phase I. In comparison to the current state of the art furnace that requires 4000 watts of input power, the Phase I furnace will require only 60 watts to reach temperatures up to 2000K. It will have sufficient thermal shock resistance capability to reach 2000K in less than 30 seconds and will be reusable. Our innovative processing approach also eliminates temperature limiting braze joints, and flammability risk at operating temperature. In the Phase I program, Foster-Miller will build a working prototype, and characterize the furnace for temperature, thermal cycling and thermal shock capability. Foster-Miller has assembled a team consisting of an, end-user and suppliers. The Phase I program is targeted to a specific NASA furnace application. This furnace technology can also be of direct use for the microgravity processing programs at NASA MSFC and LeRC. The Phase I proposal also presents a team, strategy and commitments to develop a pervasive commercial application based on this technology. The follow-on Phase II program will refine Phase I technology, demonstrate repeatability, consistency and reliability, and conduct cost/benefits and producibility analyses.

POTENTIAL COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS

The porous sapphire technology provides a refractory, thermal shock resistant and lightweight structural and electrically insulative material. Commercial applications for this technology exist in efficient lighting products for industrial/residential applications, ignitors for gas/oil fired industrial/residential furnaces and appliances, and functionally gradient tab materials used for joining of dissimilar refractory materials. Foster-Miller has assembled a Phase I team to develop superior lighting products using this technology.

NAME AND ADDRESS OF PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR

Ronald G. Roy
Foster-Miller, Inc.
350 Second Avenue
Waltham , MA 02154

NAME AND ADDRESS OF OFFEROR

Foster-Miller, Inc.
350 Second Avenue
Waltham , MA 02154