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Ultrahigh-Temperature Property Testing of Nuclear Propulsion Materials

Award Information
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Branch: N/A
Contract: 80NSSC21C0214
Agency Tracking Number: 211350
Amount: $124,999.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: Z10
Solicitation Number: SBIR_21_P1
Solicitation Year: 2021
Award Year: 2021
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2021-05-08
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2021-11-19
Small Business Information
7800 South Nogales Highway
Tucson, AZ 85756-9645
United States
DUNS: 066066874
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: Yes
Principal Investigator
 Zachary Wing
 (520) 547-0861
Business Contact
 Mark Angier
Phone: (520) 547-0850
Research Institution

While chemical propulsions systems are necessary for launch into space, other propulsion systems are far more efficient for space travel. Nuclear Thermal Propulsion (NTP) and Nuclear Electric Propulsion (NEP) technologies are of interest for future programs that require high ∆V (interplanetary, deep space, etc.). Nuclear propulsion will allow for shorter travel times and fewer launches when human missions to Mars begin.nbsp;nbsp;Current fuels being considered for NTP/NEP are based on cermet and carbide construction.nbsp; Cermet fuel uses UO2 bonded with a refractory metal (e.g. Mo, W, Ta).nbsp; Refractory carbides are also being considered (primarily ZrC) mixed with UC. These fuels can reach temperatures well above 2000deg;C.nbsp; Under these conditions and mission durations, it is critical to understand the mechanical behavior and their stability of the bonding agents used in the fuel.nbsp; Conducting physical characterization gt;2000deg;C is non-trivial since few materials can operate in this regime.nbsp; nbsp;To reduce the risks of using NTP/NEP systems, NASA needs to characterize the candidate materials at operational temperatures.nbsp;Advanced Ceramics Manufacturing has significant experience in processing Ultra High Temperature Materials (refractory metal nitrides, carbides, and borides) and developing novel ultra high temperature mechanical test systems.ACMrsquo;s proposed technology utilizes small, custom test geometries that are tested using non-contact forces. This enables characterization of modulus, strength, fatigue, and creep at nbsp;2700deg;C.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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