Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 1.50M | Year: 2014
Economical production methods for metal nuclear fuel are needed to support the development of safe and environmentally friendly nuclear power plants. This SBIR project aims to develop advanced technology for low-cost production of nuclear fuel from uranium alloy.
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 999.88K | Year: 2016
Future nuclear power plant designs call for large numbers of metallic fuel pins made from uranium alloys. Existing methods for casting these pins are very slow and costly. This project aims to enable largescale production of metallic nuclear fuel by developing an innovative continuous casting process. We are developing a continuous casting method that uses innovative process equipment, instrumentation, and control algorithms to produce precision metal fuel pins at very low cost and with metallurgical properties that are optimal for nuclear fuel. We designed and built a facility for demonstrating the casting process, designed and built mechanisms that enable precise process control, and designed, built, and/or obtained critical components needed for continuous casting at a high rate. Phase II (still under way) will conclude by demonstrating that we can produce metallic pins at a high linear casting rate with the fine, equiaxed grain structure needed for good irradiation performance. We propose to augment Phase II by developing the technologies and processes needed to meet commercial requirements for metallic fuel pins. Technical objectives will be to: (1) produce pins that meet commercial dimensional requirements, (2) extend the existing process to enable continuous production of many multiple pins, (3) develop robotic technology for pin cutting and handling, (4) establish quality control procedures, and (5) begin to transfer the technology from current simulated fuel materials to UZr alloys. The work plan calls for modifying the Phase II casting facility to enable augmented capabilities; running pin casting experiments using CuNi alloys to achieve high rates of pin production while meeting dimensional requirements; designing and assembling robotic hardware for steady production and handling of multiple pins from a single crucible of molten material; developing inspection methods to validate the fabrication approach and establish quality control procedures; and beginning work to develop the necessary hightemperature materials that will enable casting pins from UZr alloys. The primary commercial application will be production of metallic fuel pins for prototype and commercial nuclear power plants. The public benefit will be a lowcost, reliable source of electric power that is produced by safe and environmentally benign power plants. The technology we develop for precision control of the continuous casting process will also enable production of a wide range of metallic components for commercial applications, and can also be used for edgedefined, filmfed growth of crystals. Key Words Nuclear fuel fabrication, metallic nuclear fuel, continuous casting. Economical production methods for metal nuclear fuel are needed to support the development of safe and environmentally friendly nuclear power plants. This SBIR project aims to develop advanced technology for lowcost production of nuclear fuel from uranium alloys.
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 999.82K | Year: 2016
Increased electricity demand amid infrastructure development restrictions continues to foster innovation for distributed generation. Whereas pumped hydro installations are fixed locations, battery, thermal, compressed air, and flywheel storage can be mobile and competitive if they are cost effective, reliable, and safe, and have regulatory approvals and industry acceptance. Improvements to efficiency, power density and flexibility, and reduced capitalization cost are required to enable these competitive energy storage methods to be realized. Statement of How This Problem or Situation Is Being Addressed. Silicon carbide (SiC) MOSFETs offer benefits of increased efficiency, higher power density, and simplified thermal management compared to silicon devices at 12.47 kV AC/MW+ utility class power levels. We aim to use these emerging devices to greatly improve the value proposition of energy storage based distributed generation by increasing power density and eliminating large 60 Hz magnetics and unreliable liquid cooling. Our innovation is an Advanced Power Inverter (API) with (1) high power density electronic designs having high efficiency at utility power levels; (2) a physical geometry with high heat transfer rates, allowing liquid cooling hardware to be replaced with convective cooling; and (3) a bidirectional transformerless architecture, which greatly increases power density, reduces cost, simplifies the design, and improves reliability. What was done in Phase I? The following API technical milestones were achieved during Phase I: obtained and tested 10 kV SiC MOSFETs in the laboratory, demonstrating that these devices have adequate maturity and performance; achieved power density that is 4.3 times greater than existing inverters; eliminated the 60 Hz transformer and liquid cooling hardware; achieved end to end efficiency of 96%; achieved switching frequency of 20 kHz that is three times higher than for high voltage IGBTs. These accomplishments will provide power conversion electronics for grid tied energy storage applications that are smaller, more efficient, and require lower capital than existing systems. What is planned for Phase II? During Phase II we will complete design work, fabricate a full scale API prototype, evaluate performance, and prepare for commercialization transition. The Phase II API prototype will be manufactured as the first unit from a representative production line, showcasing commercial readiness for our initial Phase III customers. Commercial Application and Other Benefits. This API technology will find broad application to distributed electrical power generation equipment. Our team includes stakeholders with access to both terrestrial utility as well as Department of Defense markets, creating expansive revenue potential for this technology. Innovative API features will improve reliability, increase power density that will simplify deployment for urban and shipboard environments, reduce capitalization cost, and enable far greater power levels and revenue. Key Words. Renewable energy, energy storage, Silicon carbide Summary for Members of Congress. Creare will develop an innovative electrical energy storage and power generation technology that will reduce equipment size and cost for terrestrial utilities and Department of Defense shipboard uses.
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 749.92K | Year: 2015
NASA's future remote sensing science missions require advanced thermal management technologies to provide effective cooling for multiple instruments and reject heat through multiple radiators. To meet this need, we propose to develop a reconfigurable two-phase pumped loop that can accommodate a complex network of evaporators and multiple radiators. The pumped loop has two performance features: (1) reliable refrigerant circulation with a mechanical pump even when the refrigerant flow exiting the radiators is a two-phase flow with significant vapor quality, and (2) reliable flow distribution among evaporators to minimize flow maldistribution due to heat load variation. These features are achieved by a combination of an innovative loop configuration and Creare's proven enabling components. In Phase I, we proved the feasibility of reliable refrigerant circulation through building and testing a proof-of-concept two-phase pumped loop with key features, optimizing the pumped loop design, and predicting its performance. In Phase II, we will build and test an integrated pumped loop with multiple evaporators and heat sinks, optimize the pumped loop components and operating parameters, demonstrate its steady state and transient performance in representative thermal environments, and deliver it to NASA JPL for further performance evaluation.
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 749.98K | Year: 2015
A key objective for NASA's next rover mission to Mars is the demonstration of oxygen production from atmospheric carbon dioxide. Such a technology demonstration may pave the way for a future sample return mission to the Red Planet as well as possibly a future manned mission to Mars. A necessary component in such a demonstration system is a blower or compressor that can deliver the necessary carbon dioxide mass flow to a production plant. Creare proposes the development of a radial flow compressor that is capable of a mass flow rate of more than 400 g/hr. The compressor will be a turbomachine based on our space qualified vacuum pump technology currently operating on the Curiosity rover in the SAM instrument on Mars. In Phase II, we propose to design, build, test, and deliver a compressor that is qualified to TRL 6 and ready for integration into a flight system.
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 1.50M | Year: 2015
Future human space exploration missions will require advanced life support technology that can operate across a wide range of applications and environments. Thermal control systems for space suits and spacecraft will need to meet critical requirements for water conservation and adaptability to highly variable thermal environments. To achieve these goals, we propose an International Space Station (ISS) demonstration program for an innovative Space Evaporator Absorber Radiator (SEAR) technology. A SEAR system comprises a lithium chloride absorber radiator (LCAR) for heat rejection coupled with a space water membrane evaporator (SWME) for heat acquisition. SEAR systems provide heat pumping to minimize radiator size, thermal storage to accommodate variable environmental conditions, and water absorption to minimize use of expendables. In Phase I we proved the feasibility of our approach by building and testing an LCAR with flight-like internal structures and designing an ISS demonstration experiment. In Phase II we will design and build SEAR components, a flight-like test module, and a regeneration system according to ISS flight requirements. We will demonstrate their operation in ground tests that simulate flight test conditions.
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 999.86K | Year: 2015
Radioxenon monitoring systems are an important tool for detecting nuclear weapon tests around the world. These systems must be reliable and have low contamination potential because nuclear detonations can occur without warning and the opportunity to detect these events is relatively brief. Additionally, mobile systems must be compact, lightweight, and efficient to support onsite inspection and near-site monitoring. Currently, there are no commercially available compressors that are suitable for these systems. Our team is developing an innovative, oil-free, gerotor compression system that is extremely compact, lightweight, efficient, reliable, and robust. During the Phase I project, we demonstrated the feasibility of our approach by optimizing design trades, creating a preliminary design for a complete compression system, and fabricating a compressor assembly for initial characterization testing. During the Phase II project, we will create detailed fabrication drawings, fabricate a prototype compression system, and characterize its operation and performance at prototypical conditions. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits The technology we are developing can be used for compressors, expanders, and engines. Although radioxenon monitoring is the designated primary application, we are also aggressively pursuing several other applications with significantly greater market potential.
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Office for Chemical and Biological Defense | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 997.02K | Year: 2014
Interfaces on existing military chemical/biological protection garments are not designed to fully eliminate macroscopic and microscopic air gaps at folds, fabric surfaces, or hook-and-loop closures, and thus do not provide a hermetic barrier against exposure. Creare proposes to develop a hermetic garment closure system that seals macroscopic and microscopic gaps at interfaces and closures and provides high connection strength between two cloth articles as well as between cloth and smooth surfaces, such as for garment interfaces to rubber gloves, boots, and respirator seals. Our closure system fills voids and provides enhanced adhesion and sealing to surfaces with micrometer-scale roughness. In Phase I, we demonstrated the improved sealing capabilities of preliminary seal designs, developed novel closure designs, and produced new prototype adhesive materials. Tests showed the prototype seals provide the shear and peel strength of conventional hook-and-loop closure material and significantly reduced air leak rate. In this Phase II project, we will optimize the seal and closure designs and develop manufacturing processes for chemical-resistant seal components. We will produce prototype closures for chemical resistant garments and test the closure sealing and strength properties.
Agency: Department of Homeland Security | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 199.99K | Year: 2015
The Department of Homeland Security, the military, and civilian first responders have an urgent need for sensitive detectors of harmful materials such as biological and chemical warfare agents, toxic industrial chemicals, and explosives. Handheld instruments must be sensitive, be able to detect a wide variety of target compounds in a matter of seconds, reliably discriminate between innocuous and harmful compounds, and be relatively inexpensive. A technology with great promise for addressing all of these requirements is miniature ion trap mass spectrometry (MIT- MS). These relatively simple devices are capable of detecting, identifying, and quantitating target compounds with great sensitivity and high levels of confidence. Mass spectrometry, nearly unique among analytical instrumental methods, combines high sensitivity with generality (i.e., applicability toward all compound classes), thus offering the high molecular information necessary for confident identification. One of the biggest factors preventing the development of truly low-cost and portable MIT-MS is the cost, size, mass, and power requirements of the vacuum system required for its operation. In a highly successful Phase II SBIR project, Creare developed, built, and tested an innovative, miniature vacuum system to address this need. The current proposal seeks to further the commercialization of the vacuum system by targeted design and manufacturing improvements to reduce unit cost and prepare for mass production.
Agency: Department of Health and Human Services | Branch: National Institutes of Health | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 741.00K | Year: 2015