High Efficiency, High Temperature Foam Core Heat Exchanger for Fission Surface Power Systems, Phase II

Award Information
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Branch: N/A
Contract: NNX09CA52C
Agency Tracking Number: 075501
Amount: $600,000.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2009
Solicitation Year: 2007
Solicitation Topic Code: X8.03
Solicitation Number: N/A
Small Business Information
Ultramet
12173 Montague Street, Pacoima, CA, 91331-2210
DUNS: 052405867
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Brian Williams
 Principal Investigator
 (818) 899-0236
 brian.williams@ultramet.com
Business Contact
 Craig Ward
Title: Engineering Administrative Mgr
Phone: (818) 899-0236
Email: craig.ward@ultramet.com
Research Institution
N/A
Abstract
Fission-based power systems with power levels of 30 to ≥100 kWe will be needed for planetary surface bases. Development of high temperature, high efficiency heat exchangers is critical for next-generation nuclear power and space propulsion systems. In Phase I, Ultramet and Sandia National Laboratories demonstrated the feasibility of using high surface area foam core heat exchanger technology to substantially improve the power conversion efficiency of liquid metal-to-gas high temperature heat exchangers for fission surface power systems. Preliminary design and modeling suggested a substantial improvement in the efficiency of a liquid lithium-to-helium component relative to conventional plate-fin heat exchangers, and hardware fabrication and testing demonstrated the manufacturability, performance, and simplicity of the foam-based design. Open-cell foam is a natural coolant channel that does not require extensive, expensive machining of intricate coolant passages and eliminates the need for braze-bonding or welding of numerous individual sections. Initial testing showed the ability of textured, vapor-deposited lithium-compatible coatings to be uniformly wetted by liquid lithium at low temperature. The technology has the potential to best minimize the temperature difference between the maximum lithium reactor coolant and helium working fluid temperatures, as well as to reduce system mass and volume through the use of high surface area, low density open-cell foam, and increase safety and reliability by minimizing the number of piece parts and associated joints. In Phase II, Ultramet will team with Sandia to expand on the Phase I success by performing comprehensive design and stress analysis, determining physical properties, and establishing performance through high temperature (1000 K) thermal response and flow testing of coaxial heat exchangers using the Helium Flow Loop and Liquid Metal Integrated Test System at Sandia's Plasma Materials Test Facility.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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