SBIR Phase I: Modeling and Simulation Tools for Vacuum Science Technologies

Period of Performance: 01/01/2012 - 12/31/2012


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Spectral Sciences, Inc.
4 Fourth Avenue Array
Burlington, MA 01803
Principal Investigator, Firm POC


This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will develop a software suite to simulate the large range of pressures and complex moving parts geometry of high vacuum pumps, critical for many manufacturing processes. The approach is new and leverages the direct simulation Monte Carlo (DSMC) method, a particle based gas-flow approach used mainly for aerospace applications. Our approach seamlessly spans high to low pressure regimes and includes innovative ideas for flows over complex moving parts, both substantial advances over existing methods. Currently, there are no commercial tools available to simulate the rarefied to transition gas flow in high vacuum pumps and high vacuum environments. Instead, engineers have relied on costly trial and error and often settle on a non-optimal, compromise design. There is a clear need for predictive software for the simulation and modeling of high vacuum pumps and high vacuum environments. The objective of this Phase I is to demonstrate the feasibility of an innovative software suite based on the DSMC method to simulate gas flows in high vacuum pumps for real-world manufacturing processes. The software suite will include advanced, automated procedures to produce high fidelity simulations with few user inputs and modest computational resources. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project is to develop an innovative simulation package that will satisfy current and future needs of customers. The proposed software suite will impact high vacuum pump manufacturing (a multi-billion dollar industry) and facilities which maintain high vacuum environments for manufacturing and research (multi-million dollars in annual operating costs). The proposed software suite would significantly expand current simulation capabilities to predict high vacuum pump performance and would enable the development of the next generation of low cost, high performance vacuum pumps. A reduction in cost to create high vacuum environments will have a direct impact on the manufacturing of photovoltaic panels, glass coatings used on flat panel displays, water soluble pharmaceuticals, mass spectrometers and semi-conductors, which all require high vacuum pump systems. The significant reduction in fabrication energy through improved pump designs will reduce costs and CO2 emissions for the production of many consumer products. The predictive simulation results of the proposed software suite will also enhance current scientific understanding of rarefied gas flows which can be applied to other engineering development areas, including micro- and nano-fluidics and micro-satellites designed for advanced space launch systems.