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Pismo Beach, CA, United States

Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 124.76K | Year: 2014

Hybrid electric distributed propulsion (HEDP) systems have proven worthy for further consideration by approaching NASA's goals for N+2 and N+3 energy consumption, noise, emission and field length. The thermal management associated with these systems has been recognized as a major challenge to be overcome. ESAero's recent 2012 Phase I SBIR (NNX13CC24P) identified the radiator as a driving component within the thermal management system (TMS). Its design has profound first order effects on the weight, performance, and aerodynamic drag of the TMS, and second order effects on the weight and performance of the overall propulsion system. During the proposed Phase I SBIR, ESAero will upgrade the existing physics-based radiator design, analysis, and weight estimation conceptual design tool by improving the flexibility and fidelity of thermodynamic analysis and predicting the effects of integrating the radiator core within a well-designed duct. ESAero will call upon existing techniques to design a robust tool that more accurately predicts the "as-built" behavior of the component. These modifications are expected to dramatically improve the predicted weight and performance of the radiator and negate nearly all of the radiator drag by employing the Meredith Effect, as seen on the P-51 Mustang.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 123.20K | Year: 2014

During this Phase I effort ESAero will draw upon its knowledge of hybrid-electric propulsion system design and analysis for fixed wing aircraft to investigate the potential benefits of incorporating such systems into rotorcraft designs. Past rotorcraft studies have been conducted in conjunction with Electricore, Inc. and an industry prime, to develop hybrid propulsion system trade studies and develop databases for hybrid propulsion system worthy components. This knowledge will be leveraged to investigate potential areas of improvement including energy consumption, weight, overall efficiency, and safety. Implementing hybrid-electric systems could potentially remove redundant systems, reduce turbine size and allow for electrically powered emergency decent. In addition, decoupled energy management has shown potential benefits for fixed wing aircraft, allowing propulsors to be placed virtually anywhere around the aircraft. The potential benefit specific to rotorcraft may mean a broadening of configuration possibilities.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 122.03K | Year: 2015

A design iteration of ESAero's ECO-150 split wing turboelectric distributed propulsion (TeDP) concept is proposed to incorporate recent lessons learned in synergistic configuration opportunities, propulsion and thermal management system research and tool development, and aeropropulsive benefits reported by Lockheed Martin. Non-cryogenic and cryogenic/superconducting components will be included in three separate propulsion system architectures: one cooled via conventional "warm" coolant, one cryogenically cooled with a cryocooler system, and one cryogenically cooled with a liquid hydrogen blow-down system. The effort will begin with an interagency collaborative "Brainernet" brainstorming session to identify and assess technology and concept drivers and opportunities. Detailed configuration, aerodynamics, performance, and mission analysis will complement the effort, culminating in three flagship TeDP or hybrid electric distributed propulsion (HEDP) concepts which embody the propulsion-airframe-thermal integration (PATI) paradigm. A 2D and 3D CFD evaluation of the integrated propulsor will validate the physics-based aerodynamics and propulsor analysis tools. The lessons learned from the effort will establish a conceptual design roadmap for HEDP aircraft that are sensitive to PATI factors while also identifying path-critical technologies and design driving parameters for the propulsion and thermal management systems.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 749.89K | Year: 2015

Hybrid-electric propulsion is becoming widely accepted as a potential disruptive technology for aircraft that can provide significant reduction in fuel consumption as well as many other benefits. The majority of the analysis tools that exist today, however, do not harness the capability to analyze these unique systems, especially in the rotorcraft realm. The Phase I effort focused mainly on the development of the PANTHER tool in preparing it for modeling hybrid and all-electric rotorcraft. The tool was then exercised by modeling a handful of propulsion architectures. The goal of the proposed Phase II effort is to further improve upon the strengths of the PANTHER code that was developed, and then utilize this tool to further explore the hybrid-electric rotorcraft design space. Given the goals of the Revolutionary Vertical Lift Technology Project (RVLT), the PANTHER tool must be further expanded to enable the sizing and performance analysis of unique rotorcraft configurations with propulsion system designs unseen in the vertical lift realm. The tool will be expanded with modules for fuel cells and flywheels along with improved engine modules, physics-based motor and drive models, and a new capability to model complete missions. The thermal management aspect will also be addressed with modules for radiators, cooling ducts, fluids, and pumps. With the capability of PANTHER vastly enhanced, numerous trade studies will then be conducted that attempt to explore a large portion of the rotorcraft trade space made possible by hybrid-electric propulsion systems. These trades will aim to answer many of the questions that have arisen in the community about hybrid-electric rotorcraft. Using the results and lessons learned from these studies, and accommodating the goals of NASA and the RVLT project, a detailed conceptual design will be performed on a notional hybrid-electric rotorcraft demonstrator.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 149.99K | Year: 2014

Recent advancements to NASA's Vehicle Sketch Pad (OpenVSP 3.0) have evolved the software into a useful parametric graphics tool for serious aerospace design and analysis. The proposed effort will build off of the momentum gained from these advancements by providing a selection of features that complement the newly available capabilities. Primarily, the work will improve OpenVSP's ability to rapidly create well defined configurations. New visualization options will be added to support the creation of inboard profiles. Meanwhile, a library of pre-defined components will be established for quick selection of common aircraft parts, subsystems and payloads. The capability to link the parameters that define each component will be enhanced to enable nonlinear, multivariate functions, and a pre-defined library of common relationships will be established. Finally, a moderate fidelity parasite drag build-up tool that utilizes the new degenerate geometry feature will be created and integrated into OpenVSP for seamless trade studies. This collection of features represents a small list of low-cost, high-reward tasks that can greatly improve the tool's utility in the conceptual and preliminary design phases. By keeping the software open source, OpenVSP 3.0 and the proposed upgrades will serve as an industry-wide standard parametric geometry tool.

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