Assistance from the NASA-funded Space Alliance Technology Outreach Program (SATOP) helped Technifab Products Inc., Brazil, Ind., improve the process of removing water vapor from its vacuum jacketed cryogenic pipe.

SATOP, which is operated by the Florida’s Technological Research & Development Authority (TRDA), provides engineering assistance to small businesses with technical challenges. The assistance is provided via the expertise of the program’s partners, more than 25 aerospace companies and universities involved in the U.S. space program.

Although small businesses do not need to be related to the aerospace industry to participate in SATOP, Technifab Products is a supplier to NASA. The manufacturer of cryogenic pipe and hose products also produces aluminum and stainless steel pipe and vessels that are insulated using multilayer insulation. During the manufacturing process, water vapor would get trapped in the insulation fibers.

"Water vapor inside a vacuum insulated pipe is quite common. Most of the time spent evacuating any space is spent removing water,” said Philip Redenbarger, Technifab’s vice president. Technifab approached SATOP to find ways to reduce the pump time required to evacuate the water molecules from the vessel.

“Reducing pump time allows more throughput without an increase in capital equipment, resulting in cost reduction and overall improved manufacturing efficiency."

At SATOP, Ryan Greenough, a senior program engineer, paired Redenbarger with Mike Melgares, a mechanical engineer with Hamilton Sundstrand. Melgares shared his knowledge and experience developed while dealing with the exact same problem for the International Space Station. Melgares provided a step-by-step process to remove the water vapors from the insulated pipes based on the successful resolution utilized for the ISS.