This SBIR effort will lead to a fully-developed instrument capable of simultaneously and redundantly measuring multiple physical properties of droplets and ice crystals. NASA's research into flight safety and aircraft propulsion would benefit from the successful commercialization of this instrument. Other governmental, academic, and industrial research groups in the areas of aircraft and flight safety, air-breathing and rocket propulsion, transportation, spray drying, and other industrial processes would all stand to benefit from a diagnostic capable of exceptional phase discrimination and/or remote droplet diameter/temperature measurement. There are several possible paths to commercialization of this work either as improvements on our current commercial products as entirely new products.
This innovation will be offered as an option to our current PDI products. We believe there will be demand in industries such as spray drying and deposition, painting and coating, and general multi-phase flow research. While of obvious interest to meteorologists and icing researchers, we believe that the larger market is that of spray combustion, propulsion, and transportation. Moreover, there are a wide range of food processing applications using spray drying. Efficient energy utilization and product quality are key concerns in these applications. Within the meteorology and icing research markets there is potential to create two separate product lines. Some researchers will prefer an in situ device that can be placed in a large wind tunnel flow or mounted to an aircraft exterior. Others may prefer an ex situ instrument that can be placed outside of the flow – the solicitation specifically mentions the profiling across the span of an engine duct. The proposed diagnostic methods are all suitable for both styles of measurement. Furthermore, since the proposed layout involves the use of backscatter collection, such an instrument could be deployed from within an aircraft's fuselage and pointed out a window with no impact on the flow or external mounting requirements. Such an instrument configuration could move beyond a research tool and be used as a real-time flight safety instrument to characterize the icing threat to the airframe.