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Murrieta, CA, United States

Innovative Engineering Solutions | Date: 2010-10-18

A propellant flow actuated piezoelectric igniter device using one or more hammer balls retained by one or more magnets, or other retaining method, until sufficient fluid pressure is achieved to release and accelerate the hammer ball, such that it impacts a piezoelectric crystal to produce an ignition spark. Certain preferred embodiments provide a means for repetitively capturing and releasing the hammer ball after it impacts one or more piezoelectric crystals, thereby oscillating and producing multiple, repetitive ignition sparks. Furthermore, an embodiment is presented for which oscillation of the hammer ball and repetitive impact to the piezoelectric crystal is maintained without the need for a magnet or other retaining mechanism to achieve this oscillating impact process.

Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 99.05K | Year: 2010

Spark ignition of a bi-propellant rocket engine is a classic, proven, and generally reliable process. However, timing can be critical, and the control logic, additional electronic components and wiring adds complexity, cost and weight. These factors can be especially undesirable for small attitude or reaction control engines. The proposed innovation uses a novel method to excite a piezo-ceramic crystal using the initiation of propellant flow to the engine. When the propellant valves are opened, the precise timing of the spark relative to propellant flow, as well as the flow start transient, are governed by the geometry of the device. Hence, precise, repeatable start conditions should be achieved with no additional control logic or complexity. Furthermore, the piezo-ceramic crystal is integral to (and embedded in) the igniter body, thereby completely eliminating external wiring and associated complexity. A bench-top demonstration of one manifestation of the device (incorporating only one very simple moving part) has already demonstrated basic feasibility. Other manifestations with no moving parts what-so-ever (at the macroscopic scale) may also be viable, and will be investigated. Phase 1 TLR advancement goal is from 3 to 5, with Phase 2 goal of 7.

Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 599.97K | Year: 2011

Under a Phase 1 effort, IES successfully developed and demonstrated a spark ignition concept where propellant flow drives a very simple fluid mechanical oscillator to excite a piezoelectric crystal. The Phase 1 effort exceeded expectations, with the device demonstrating reliable ignition of both hydrogen and propane fuels, and achieving in excess of 1 million impact cycles (40,000 start cycles) during fatigue testing without measureable degradation. Several spin-off concepts were also identified that provide additional options for improving spark ignition system design. For Phase 2, IES proposes an accelerated, 18 month effort to refine design concepts and analysis tools, and then develop specific ignition system designs for two customer applications, with the intention of having these ignition systems demonstrated in engine ground testing during Phase 2 and ready to start flight qualification immediately following the Phase 2 effort. Both customers (United Launch Alliance and Pratt Whitney Rocketdyne) have expressed interest and commitment in participating in the Phase 2 activity, making engines and facilities available for development testing, and integrating any resulting viable products into their flight engines. The ULA application is a new gaseous bipropellant H2/O2 attitude control thruster, for which the piezoelectric igniter is ideal as a simple, direct ignition source. The PWR application is for an evolved RL-10 study currently underway, for which the piezoelectric system might be scaled up or used as a pilot igniter for a torch, or make use of another spin-off concept that was identified during the Phase 1 effort. The timing of this Phase 2 effort coincides perfectly with near term needs of both these customers, as well as for other small engine applications in work to replace catalytic hydrazine engines with bi-propellant engines that will require a simple and reliable ignition source.

Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 99.88K | Year: 2011

While evaluating lunar ascent and descent stage propellant acquisition options in 2008 and 2009 for NASA GRC, IES conceived a novel, flexible screen propellant management device (PMD). The concept provides a highly simplified and easy to build PMD as an alternative to a total communication device or one incorporating a start basket. Water bench tests with a very primitive prototype yielded encouraging results, and additional, simple bench-level testing with LN2 was also encouraging. An opportunity exists to refine the concept, develop a larger, more flight-like apparatus, and test it in a cryogenic tank currently being designed and subsequently intended for use on the Cryogenic Orbital Testbed (CRYOTE) experiment. Designing a full size flight qualifiable flexible screen PMD under a Phase 1 SBIR effort, followed by hardware fabrication, qualification and flight demonstration on a flight test platform concurrently in development, will allow this concept to be demonstrated for a fraction of the cost that would be required for a dedicated flight of a flexible PMD experiment. The concept TRL should move from 3 to 5 during Phase 1, and 5 to 7 during Phase 2.

A method for reversible coding of an image, including extracting compression information from an image compressed in an original format, at least partly decompressing the compressed image into an intermediate at least partly decompressed image, re-encoding the intermediate image into a re-encoded image, and preferably associating in a same file, the re-encoded image with compression information.

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