Propellant Flow Actuated Piezoelectric Rocket Engine Igniter

Award Information
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Branch: N/A
Contract: NNX11CB38C
Agency Tracking Number: 094866
Amount: $599,974.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2011
Solicitation Year: 2009
Solicitation Topic Code: X10.01
Solicitation Number: N/A
Small Business Information
CA, Murrieta, CA, 92562-7060
DUNS: 877211243
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: Y
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Mark Wollen
 Principal Investigator
 (619) 593-7750
 mwollen@iesnet.com
Business Contact
 Michael Gruszczynski
Title: Business Official
Phone: (951) 951-7600
Email: mg@iesnet.com
Research Institution
 Stub
Abstract
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.

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

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