Cryogenic Propellant Insulation Program

Period of Performance: 01/01/2003 - 12/31/2003


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Technology Applications, Inc.
5700 Flatiron Parkway, Suite #5701A
Boulder, CO 80301
Principal Investigator
Firm POC


Technology Applications, Inc. (TAI) is proposing to demonstrate feasibility of cryogenic propellant insulation technologies that improve the thermal performance, operational efficiencies, durability, reliability, and safety of these systems in earth, space, and extraterrestrial environments. The new technology, which employs microspheres as the insulating medium, provides for robust, low-maintenance storage systems and transfer lines well suited for the on/off operation that is typical for space launch operations. Microspheres perform over 1.6 times better than perlite, approach multilayer insulation (MLI) performance under proper vacuum, and limit heat leak to the level of foam insulation if vacuum is completely lost. They perform as well or better than any of the above insulation materials in a soft vacuum condition. This means less vacuum maintenance to be performed. Transfer line and dewar test articles will be manufactured to address microsphere containment and compaction issues. Microspheres can be used to insulate areas that have complicated geometry; require intermittent access, such as around instrumentation and piping components; or for applications that require formability and minimal weight. The innovations are applicable for high efficiency storage, handling, and distribution systems for spaceport cryogenic facilities, reusable launch vehicles, and the transport and storage of cryogenic propellants on Mars.