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
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.
Cryogenic Pipe Design Improved with Help from NASA
April 27, 2011