Electrochemically Assisted Safe Ionic Propellant
Navy SBIR 2015.1 - Topic N151-062
ONR - Ms. Lore-Anne Ponirakis - loreanne.ponirakis@navy.mil
Opens: January 15, 2015 - Closes: February 25, 2015 6:00am ET

N151-062 TITLE: Electrochemically Assisted Safe Ionic Propellant

TECHNOLOGY AREAS: Space Platforms, Weapons

ACQUISITION PROGRAM: Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) - Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) ACAT 1

The technology within this topic is restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), 22 CFR Parts 120-130, which controls the export and import of defense-related material and services, including export of sensitive technical data, or the Export Administration Regulation (EAR), 15 CFR Parts 730-774, which controls dual use items. Offerors must disclose any proposed use of foreign nationals (FNs), their country(ies) of origin, the type of visa or work permit possessed, and the statement of work (SOW) tasks intended for accomplishment by the FN(s) in accordance with section 5.4.c.(8) of the solicitation. Offerors are advised foreign nationals proposed to perform on this topic may be restricted due to the technical data under US Export Control Laws.

OBJECTIVE: Develop and formulate ionic monopropellant materials capable of providing environmentally safe, fully controllable, electrically ignitable propulsion thruster systems. Specifically, develop ionic monopropellant compositions that leverage an electrochemical on-off ignition process for advanced thrust control motors.

DESCRIPTION: The development of safe ionic propellants is important for potential shipboard applications. Electrical assisted ignition of an ionic monopropellant is an intriguing possibility for a controllable safe propulsion technology. Developing a robust electrochemically assisted process to convert ionic species from the monopropellant formulation (AF-M315E, LMP-103S, etc.) into an ignitable gas followed by ignition is the foremost goal of this topic. It is expected that the effort will require design and demonstration of a monopropellant formulation compatible with an electrical ignition process. Efforts should address the optimization of an ionic monopropellant formulation through modeling, experiments, detailed analytical chemistry, electrochemistry, and physics.

PHASE I: Perform an analysis and select promising novel materials for the development of solid and liquid ionic monopropellant candidates. Perform theoretical calculations of promising ionic systems which exceed the performance of Hydrazine/Dinitrogen Tetroxide (N2O4). Recommend and demonstrate the practicality of novel solid and liquid ionic monopropellants.

PHASE II: Develop and scale-up ionic monopropellant formulations that meet or exceed current hypergolic hydrazine formulations. In conjunction with a Navy designated test organization, demonstrate and optimize one or two selected formulations. Conduct performance and safety evaluations and down select to a single formulation for testing to determine suitability for US Navy use.

PHASE III: Manufacture ionic propellant formulation at pilot plant scale and demonstrate its safety and suitability for scale-up to full-scale production. Sufficient quantity of propellant formulation shall be provided for performance and safety testing. The small business will support the Navy with certifying and qualifying the ionic propellant for Navy use. When appropriate the small business will focus on scaling up manufacturing capabilities and commercialization plans. At the completion of this phase, the propellant composition will be ready for transition into a new electrically controlled Divert and Attitude Control System (DACS) for use in a missile system such as SM-3.

PRIVATE SECTOR COMMERCIAL POTENTIAL/DUAL-USE APPLICATIONS: Ionic monopropellants have potential applicability for replacement of hydrazine/N2O4 hypergolic systems in commercial spacecraft for small engines and thrusters such as the Draco thrusters in SpaceX Dragon spacecraft.

1) Hawkins, T., Brand, A., McKay, M., Drake, G, and Ismail, I.M.K., "Characterization of Reduced Toxicity, High Performance Monopropellants at the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory", International Conference on Green Propellant for Space Propulsion, Noordwijk, The Netherlands, 20 June 2001.

2) Hawkins, T., Brand, A, McKay, M., and Tinnirello, M., "Reduced Toxicity, High Performance Monopropellant at the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory", 4th International Association for the Advancement of Space Safety Conference, Huntsville, AL, 19-21 May 2010.

3) Sawka, W., Katzakian, A., and Grix, C., "Solid State Digital Propulsion Cluster Thrusters For Small Satellites Using High Performance Electrically Controlled Extinguishable Solid Propellants", 19th Annual AIAA/USU Conference on Small Satellites, Utah State University, Logan, Utah, August 8-11, 2005.

4) Yetter, R., Yang, V., Aksay, I., and Dryer, F., "Meso and Micro Scale Propulsion Concepts for Small Spacecraft - Final Technical Report", AFRL-SR-AR-TR-06-0280, July 28, 2006.

5) Yetter, R., Yang, V., and Aksay, I., "An Integrated Ignition and Combustion System for Liquid Propellant Micro Propulsion - Technical Report", AFOSR Grant # FA9550-06-1-0183, June 26, 2008.

6) Rogers, R., "Developing Ionic Liquid Know-How for the Design of Modular Functionality, Versatile Platforms, and New Synthetic Methodologies for Energetic Materials", AFRL-OSR-VA-TR-2013-0615, December 5, 2013.

KEYWORDS: ionic; monopropellant; electrochemistry; AF-M315E, Ammonium Dinitramide; ADN; LMP-103S; hydroxyl ammonium nitrate; HAN

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