High Efficiency Regenerative Helium Compressor

Award Information
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Branch: N/A
Contract: NNX07CA81P
Agency Tracking Number: 065599
Amount: $99,906.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2007
Solicitation Year: 2006
Solicitation Topic Code: X9.01
Solicitation Number: N/A
Small Business Information
176 Waltham St, Watertown, MA, 02472-4809
DUNS: 070615646
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Charles Hannon
 Principal Investigator
 (617) 926-6700
Business Contact
 Andrew Vasilakis
Title: President
Phone: (617) 926-6700
Email: andyv@amtimail.com
Research Institution
Helium plays several critical rolls in spacecraft propulsion. High pressure helium is commonly used to pressurize propellant fuel tanks. Helium cryocoolers can be used to sub-cool and thereby densify cryogenic propellants such as liquid hydrogen (LH2) and liquid oxygen (LO2). The use of densified cryogenic propellants can reduce the gross payload weight of a launch vehicle by up to 20%, or increase payload capability. Helium compressors are critical components for cryogenic propellant storage and distribution systems, whether used in cryocoolers for densification or to compress gaseous helium for propellant pressurization. Regenerative compressor technology can serve high head, low flow helium pressurization applications in a compact form with high reliability. Pressure ratios on the order of 3:1 per impeller-stage are commercially available. Non-lubricated gas-bearing supported prototypes have been successfully demonstrated. However, even state-of-the-art prototype regenerative compressors are limited to efficiencies of about 55%. This was achieved using aerodynamic rotor blades rather than the straight radial blades previously used. Commercially available regenerative compressors with straight vaned rotors operate at much lower efficiency. An innovation is proposed that promises to improve the efficiency of regenerative compressors well beyond the current state of the art.

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

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