Innovative High Temperature Heat Pipes for Spacecraft Nuclear Fission Systems

Award Information
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Branch: N/A
Contract: NNX13CC84C
Agency Tracking Number: 114134
Amount: $837,419.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2013
Solicitation Year: 2011
Solicitation Topic Code: X8.03
Solicitation Number: N/A
Small Business Information
1046 New Holland Avenue, Lancaster, PA, 17601-5688
DUNS: 126288336
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Calin Tarau
 Principal Investigator
 (516) 603-5980
Business Contact
 Jon Zuo
Title: Business Official
Phone: (717) 295-6061
Research Institution
NASA Glenn is examining small fission reactors for future space transportation and surface power applications. The reactors would have an 8 to 15 year design life and should be available for a 2020 launch to support future NASA science missions. Both 1 kWe thermoelectric and 3 kWe Stirling systems have been examined. Heat pipes are being examined to transfer the thermal energy from the reactor to the electric conversion systems. There are three types of wicks that can carry this power over the distance; grooved, sintered arterial and self-venting arterial. Arterial heat pipes are the default design for spacecraft nuclear reactors; however, de-priming of the artery due to radiation is a serious potential problem. Grooved and self-venting arterial heat pipes are less susceptible to de-priming since the liquid in the grooves is open to the vapor space and the self-venting arterial heat pipe has venting pores in the evaporator to allow trapped vapor to escape. ACT's innovation was to examine the tradeoffs between the three heat pipe wicks and determine an optimum wick design that is suitable for fission reactor applications. The Phase I project was successful in demonstrating that all three types of wicks can transport the necessary power.

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

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