Reaching for the Stars – Advanced Cooling Technologies Wins Record 4 NASA Phase II SBIR Programs
Lancaster, PA, September 2023 – ACT has a history of success through NASA’s SBIR (Small Business Innovative Research) Program, developing many technologies in orbit today or being developed for future Lunar, Martian and deep space missions. ACT’s engineering and manufacturing pedigree has led to a track record, in the space industry, of increasing TRL for both passive and active thermal management and control systems. ACT will look to replicate this success on the programs outlined below, all critical to future NASA missions.
The first project, “Passive Two-Phase Thermal Management System (TMS) for Hall Thruster,” involves a partnership between ACT and the University of Michigan. The program will develop and mature a lightweight, compact, and highly effective passive two-phase thermal management system (TMS) for extremely high power-density magnetically-shielded Hall thrusters, aiming to enable future NASA cislunar and deep space missions. The objective of this program is to develop an advanced two-phase passive TMS for higher power-density H9 Hall thrusters, consisting of alkali-metal heat pipes with hot radiators, and cold radiator heat pipes or Pulsating Heat Pipes embedded to improve its overall effective thermal conductivity (i.e., up to an order-of-magnitude).
On the second project, Advanced Cooling Technologies and Ultra Safe Nuclear Corp have teamed for the project “Hot End Thermal Management for Nuclear Electric Propulsion”. The program will develop a highly reliable heat pipe-based thermal management system to transport thermal energy at megawatt scale, between the nuclear reactor and the hot end of the power conversion system. This collaborative project holds immense promise for advancing nuclear electric propulsion technology. It paves the way for efficient, reliable, and high-capacity heat transfer systems, opening new doors for space exploration and energy applications.
In their third project, “Hybrid Manufacturing Process of Loop Heat Pipe Evaporator”, ACT is working on an exciting manufacturing process for a Loop Heat Pipe Evaporator (LHP). It uses a mix of two methods: Additive Manufacturing and the traditional way of making LHPs. This way of manufacturing uses a method called Direct Energy Deposition (DED), which is a type of 3D printing. With DED, they can build a strong seal directly onto the main part and connect it to the lower-pressure area. This process is incredibly fast and automated, so it’s a lot more reliable and cuts down on processing time. This allows them to make LHPs in different shapes, not just the usual cylinders, which enhances capabilities and flexibility in how the pipes are designed.
In the final project, “Novel Vapor Chambers for Advanced Sorption Systems”, ACT will continue developing a vapor chamber to offer improved thermal management for the Carbon Dioxide Removal Assembly (CDRA) on the International Space Station. The CDRA has been in operation for over 30 years. It has seen a handful of issues during its lifetime such as power usage, zeolite dusting, and nonuniform heating and cooling of the sorbent material. ACT has developed vapor chambers to directly address each of these issues.
“We are honored to be selected for these pioneering thermal projects,” said Bill Anderson, Chief Engineer for R&D at ACT. “Our team put forward extremely competitive bids, and winning not just one or two, but 4 contracts, validates our technology leadership in space thermal management.”
Learn more about the details of each project here.
About Advanced Cooling Technologies, Inc.
Advanced Cooling Technologies, Inc. is a premier thermal management solutions company, providing design and manufacturing services to meet our customers’ needs across all points of the product lifecycle. We serve our global customers’ thermal management and energy recovery needs in diverse industries including Defense, Aerospace, Electronics, HVAC, Medical, Enclosure Cooling, and Calibration Equipment. We specialize in providing innovative and performance-optimized thermal management technologies and solutions that meet the unique needs of each customer.