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Lithium Propellant Purification and Filtration System For LFA and MPD Thrusters

Award Information

National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Award ID:
Program Year/Program:
2005 / SBIR
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
Starfire Industries LLC
2109 South Oak Street, Suite 100 Urbana, IL 61820-0914
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Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No
Phase 1
Fiscal Year: 2005
Title: Lithium Propellant Purification and Filtration System For LFA and MPD Thrusters
Agency: NASA
Contract: NNC05CA58C
Award Amount: $69,852.00


Lithium has been proposed as an attractive metal propellant for advanced nuclear-electric propulsion missions in the outer solar system. While it is low molecular weight for high Isp and had high conductivity for MPD acceleration, it is also corrosive to most metals, leeches elements from alloys, destroys dielectric insulators and is heavily prone to contamination. Porous metal electrodes, valves and plumbing can become clogged by lithium oxide, nitride and carbide formation and deposits. Impurities in liquid lithium also enhance metal flaking and tankage erosion.The design of a lithium purification and filtration system using highly porous gettering materials, hot/cold trap filters, gas desorption, and liquid metal pumping is proposed in this Phase I research effort. The goal is to eliminate clogging and contamination effects for long-duration space missions >5 years where buildup can be a show-stopper. Exerimental testing and validation of material configurations will lead to a prototype lithium purification and flitration system in Phase II.

Principal Investigator:

Robert A. Stubbers

Business Contact:

Brian E. Jurczyk
Business Official
Small Business Information at Submission:

Starfire Industries LLC
60 Hazelwood Drive Champaign, IL 61820

EIN/Tax ID: 364430936
Number of Employees:
Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No