Chico, CA, United States
Chico, CA, United States
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Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 124.99K | Year: 2014

Makel Engineering, Inc. (MEI) proposes to develop a miniaturized Airborne Chemical Microsensor Instrument (ACMI) suitable for real-time, airborne measurements of trace carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and methane for use on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs.) The potential of UAVs to carry instrument packages to support atmospheric science has been demonstrated over the past decade. The rapid expansion of available UAV types and increased mission capability (payload, flight duration, and system cost reductions) offers wide range of potential applications. The instrument package to be developed in the program will adapt low cost and low power chemical microsensor technology which has been demonstrated for fire detection and exhaust emission monitoring to airborne measurements. The fast time response and miniaturized system will provide a lightweight, low cost instrument for package for a wide range of deployments including aerostats (balloons and kites) to UAV such as Dragon Eye and SIERRA. Phase I of the program will fabricate and test a prototype system to demonstrate capability of the instrument.


Grant
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 996.86K | Year: 2012

One of the key requirements to efficiently and safely operate advanced power generation systems is to have knowledge of the process conditions. In addition to physical measurements (e.g., pressure, temperature), real-time knowledge of gas compositions at critical locations enables optimizing operational conditions. The goal of this project is to develop an integrated package to enable operation of MEMS sensors in the harsh environments associated with advanced power systems. This standard package will enable placement of a variety of chemical sensors in the process, and to quickly adjust for process variations (e.g. feedstock energy content, intake air humidity, etc.). In Phase I, Makel Engineering developed two integral probe designs for harsh environments, meeting the requirements for a wide range of applications within advanced power generation. The T-Style integral packaging was developed for installation in stationary turbines. The R- Style was developed for installation in refractory lined walls. Probes were fabricated and tested in simulated environments. Phase II will focus on testing chemical sensors in turbine and gasifier systems at a wide range of end user facilities that include DOE coal-fired facilities as well as facilities operated by Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) and turbine manufactures. This will demonstrate how advanced sensors can play an important role in characterizing the physical and chemical environments within gas turbines and other components present in emerging clean coal technology power systems. Advanced stationary gas turbines is the primary application for the technology, requiring. Measurement of species such as NOx, CO and O2 at elevated temperatures to optimize operational conditions. On a related application, temperature is the primary limiting factor in the placement of chemical sensor in aircraft engines.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 749.93K | Year: 2013

Makel Engineering and the Ohio State University propose to develop a harsh environment tolerant gas sensor array for atmospheric analysis in future Venus missions. The proposed instrument will be very compact, require low power, and ruggedly packaged to be compatible with a drop sonde payload from a balloon for atmospheric composition analysis and/or for use on Venus surface lander or surface weather station. The goal is to provide information on local SOx CO, O2, NOx, H2, OCS, HF, HCl, and water vapor concentrations in order to complement other measurement systems that were targeted in the 2009 Venus Flagship Mission Study such as a GC-MS, nephelometer, or camera/optical detectors. Phase II will fabricate and test probe designs based on sensors tested in Phase I. Complete sensor array including high temperature capable electronics (250 to 300 C) will be tested at the NASA Glenn Extreme Environment Rig (GEER) to provide simulation of the Venus atmosphere at different conditions.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 749.79K | Year: 2015

The rapid expansion of available UAV types and increased mission capability (payload, flight duration, and system cost reductions) offers wide range of potential applications. The Airborne Chemical Microsensor System (AMS) instrument package being developed adapts low cost and low power chemical microsensor technology which has been demonstrated for fire detection and exhaust emission monitoring to airborne measurements. The fast time response and miniaturized system will provide a lightweight, low cost instrument for package for a wide range of deployments including aerostats (balloons and kites) to UAV such as Dragon Eye and SIERRA. Chemical species mapping using UAVs enables model validation and attaining new data that complements and augments traditional aerial and satellite data. However, there currently are limited options adapting commercial chemical sensors for detecting all species of interest at the levels required, and with fast response time. Wet electrochemical cells, which provide accurate measurement for some species, are typically slow (30-60 sec), sensitive to pressure changes, and are a potential hazard from leakage. Most commercial environmental carbon dioxide monitors are based on NDIR, with response time in the order of minutes. Hydrocarbons are monitored by generic combustible gas sensors. Instruments need to be low cost, compact and robust enough for incorporation in UAV systems, capable of surviving hard landings and sufficiently low cost that damage to the instrument and or loss of the UAV is not a major setback for the mission. The proposed solid-state, microsensor technology is well suited for this application, because of the low production cost and robust packaging. The proposed program provides a low cost instrument (less than $1000 in limited quantities) for real-time carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and methane detection.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 124.97K | Year: 2015

Makel Engineering, Inc. proposes to develop a miniaturized Multi-Species Chemical Microsensor Instrument suitable for real-time, in situ measurements of hydrogen or methane, oxygen, water vapor and mixture thermal conductivity for monitoring purge effectiveness in cryogenic propellant lines. Helium is a scarce, strategic and non-renewable natural resource. NASA is a major user of helium and significant future cost savings in operations can be realized with improved monitoring of purge activities. Without real time measurement of species being purged from systems, extended purge cycles and excess helium is used to ensure completely purged lines. The proposed sensor system will incorporate individual microsensor elements for key species. The sensors will be designed to be permanently installed in purge and vent lines at cryogenic propellant storage, transfer, test stand and launch facilities. The instrument package to be developed in the program will adapt low cost and low power chemical microsensor technology which was originally developed for leak detection applications and recently been demonstrated in proof of concept cryogenic vent tests at NASA. This program will develop a low cost, robust integrated sensor probe and electronics with data interfaces suitable for real time monitoring and control helium purge sequences to minimize overall helium usage.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 150.00K | Year: 2015

ABSTRACT:Makel Engineering, Inc. and the University of California at Davis propose to develop an Orthogonal Air Quality Sensor Suite (OAQSS) which combines single species solid state chemical sensors with a miniature ion mobility spectrometer (IMS) to monitor oxygen levels and a wide range of potential contaminants. In addition to chemical species, the OAQSS will include pressure, temperature and dew point measurements. Several solid state chemical sensors will be derived from previous research for fire detection and emissions monitoring (e.g., O2, CO2, CO, NOx, hydrocarbons). The miniature IMS technology will enable detection of a wide range of volatile organic compounds and other vapors, significantly expanding the capabilities of the solid state sensors. The OAQSS will be a flyable system capable of real-time monitoring of the species of interest. It will be suitable for integration with aircraft environmental control system, adhering to available power sources and data transfer protocols. The system will have internal logging capabilities keeping a data buffer sufficient to store data for one or more flights Consistent with flight requirements, the OAQSS will be robust to survive the acceleration and vibration environment expected in fighter planes, yet design will emphasize minimization of physical envelope, mass and power consumption. BENEFIT:An aircrafts OBOGS supplies proper oxygen partial pressure to the pilot by conditioning and concentrating oxygen from engine bleed air. In addition to concentrating the oxygen levels, this system effectively filters out contaminants from typical bleed air supply. Problems arise when bleed air composition is substantially out of spec with elevated levels of contaminants. Real-time monitoring and detection of contaminants via the proposed system can immediately alert the pilot and aircrew to dangers, and initiate timely execution of emergency procedures. As commercial and civil aviation transition from traditional high pressure gaseous and liquid oxygen systems to OBOGS, there will exist additional commercial opportunities for the proposed Orthogonal Air Quality Sensor Suite (OAQSS).


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 124.92K | Year: 2016

Makel Engineering Inc. (MEI), proposes to develop flight capable chemical microsensor arrays for in-situ monitoring of high temperature bleed air and turbine exhaust in jet engines. The proposed chemical sensor probes will be a new class of on-board engine instrumentation for real time monitoring of engine and bleed air system operation in flight. Sensor arrays developed by MEI have been demonstrated for ground tests usage to quantify composition of critical constituents in turbine engine exhaust products, e.g., CO, CO2, NOx, O2 and HC (unburned hydrocarbons). There currently is no flight capable instrumentation for real time measurement of high temperature gas streams from engine bleed air or the turbine exhaust. Ground test demonstrations with high temperature capable (500 to 600 (deg) C) solid-state chemical microsensors have shown the potential value for engine health monitoring and detection of engine faults or abnormal operations from ingestion of high moisture levels or particulate from volcanic emissions. The development of flight qualified engine sensors which can measure key chemical species will enable a new level of aeronautical vehicle health management.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 749.58K | Year: 2016

Makel Engineering, Inc. proposes to develop a miniaturized Multi-Species Chemical Microsensor Instrument suitable for real-time, in situ measurements of hydrogen, oxygen, water vapor and mixture thermal conductivity for monitoring purge effectiveness in cryogenic propellant lines. Helium is a scarce, strategic and non-renewable natural resource. NASA is a major user of helium and significant future cost savings in operations can be realized with improved monitoring of purge activities. Without real time measurement of species being purged from systems, extended purge cycles and excess helium is used to ensure completely purged lines. The proposed sensor system will incorporate the required microsensors in a compact probe to enable multi-parameter monitoring in a single measurement port. The system will be designed to be permanently installed in purge and vent lines at cryogenic propellant storage, transfer, test stand and launch facilities. This program will adapt low cost and low power chemical microsensor technology which was originally developed for leak detection applications and recently been demonstrated in proof of concept cryogenic vent tests at NASA to develop a low cost, robust integrated sensor probe and electronics with data interfaces suitable for real time monitoring and control helium purge sequences to minimize overall helium usage.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 124.93K | Year: 2016

Makel Engineering, Inc. proposes to develop a low cost, UAV based microsensor array payload for monitoring volcanic processes such as plume vents and hot lava flows. Microsensor arrays, each consisting of four to eight high temperature sensors for species such as OCS, HF, HCl, NOx, CO, SOx, CH4, H2O, O2, and CO2, will be packaged with electronics and data transmission capability. The high temperature thick and film microsensors for the species of interest have been developed for Venus atmospheric measurement under a previous NASA program. This sensor technology will be the basis of this low cost UAV payload for Earth science missions. The microsensor array packages will be integrated into lightweight payloads (under 200 gm) that can be suspended under a small UAV multi-copter for measurements near lava flows. Alternately, the microsensor array payload can be packaged as a dropsonde and deployed in regions which are too hostile for low altitude UAV flight. The Volcanic Microsensor Array System (VMAS) packaging will designed to enable the sensors to be used for prolonged operation in high temperature, turbulent, and corrosive gas environments. The microsensor array will be sufficiently low cost that it can be expendable and can transmit data from regions where it is impractical to retrieve instrumentation. This innovative use of a low cost microsensor array can provide measurements not feasible with more expensive and sophisticated instruments which cannot be sacrificed in high risk measurement areas.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 124.94K | Year: 2016

Makel Engineering, Inc. proposes to develop a high temperature, radiation hard electronics sensing architecture for a high temperature chemical sensor array suitable for measuring key chemical species in the Venus atmosphere. The previously developed Venus Microsensor Chemical Array (VMCA) consists of sensing elements which can operate in a 500 C environment, but which currently rely on silicon based electronics for signal acquisition, control and data transmission, which requires active cooling for a Venus mission deployment. NASA GRC has demonstrated simple SiC electronic circuits, such as differential amplifiers and logic gates that were packaged and operated for a world-record of thousands of hours at 500 C. Ongoing work at NASA, universities, and industry is increasing the complexity and capability of SiC devices. This proposal aims to develop electronics designs and architecture to enable NASA's high temperature SiC electronics to be applied to the VCMA to form a science instrument suitable for a future Venus mission. Phase I will develop innovative designs using near term SiC components to provide transduction and signal processing needed to operate the VMCA without active cooling. Phase I designs will be demonstrated in hardware using silicon versions of electronics components which are achievable in SiC. This process is the key first step in applying emerging development of SiC electronics to a harsh environment chemical sensing need. Phase II will focus on implementation of the SiC electronics design utilizing the best available SiC components.

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