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Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Tech Transfer

Thin Aerogel as a Spacer in Multi-Layer Insulation for Cryogenic Space Applications

Completed Technology Project

Project Description

Thin Aerogel as a Spacer in Multi-Layer Insulation for Cryogenic Space Applications
Cryogenic fluid management (CFM) is a critical technical area that is needed for the successful development for future space exploration. A key challenge is the storability of LH2, LCH4, and LOX propellants for long durations. The storage tanks must be well insulated to prevent over pressurization and venting, which lead to unacceptable propellant losses for long-duration missions to Mars and beyond. Aspen Aerogels validated the key process step for a next generation aerogel manufacturing technology to enable the fabrication of thin, low density aerogel materials. Multi-Layer Aerogel Insulation (MLAI) system prototypes were prepared using sheets of these aerogel materials that have superior thermal performance exceeding that of the current state of the art insulation for space application, MLI, across the vacuum range tested (0.01 – 100 millitorr). The exceptional properties of this system include a new breakthrough in high vacuum cryogenic thermal insulation, providing a durable material with excellent thermal performance at a reduced cost when compared to longstanding state-of-the-art MLI systems. During the Phase II Program, further refinement and qualification/system-level testing of the MLAI system will be performed for use in cryogenic storage applications. More »

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