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Cellular Load Responsive MLI

Quest Thermal was selected for a new NASA SBIR Phase I award, in June 2014. Quest's and Ball's latest innovative concept is called Cellular Load Responsive MLI, and combines some unique properties of our LRMLI load supporting insulation, advanced compartmentalized structures, and the ability to self-evacuate via cryopumping to form high internal vacuum when placed in contact with cryogenic tanks. 

Quest proposes to develop and test an innovative, high performance thermal insulation system, designed to provide high performance on large LH2 tanks. Cellular Load Responsive ("CLR") multilayer insulation integrates a mid-size cryopumping self-evacuating vacuum cell core with load bearing LRMLI within the compartments. CLR can offer a structural, high performance insulation system, that is damage tolerant, can support external loads such as thermal shields, and provides good thermal insulation both in-air (for ground and ascent phases) and in-vacuum (once in-space). CLR could provide 92% lower heat leak in-air during ground hold, and 97% lower heat leak in-space than SOFI.

NASA's Technology Roadmaps call "Zero Boil Off storage of cryogenic propellants for long duration missions" and "Nuclear Thermal Propulsion components and systems" the #2 and #7 ranked technical challenge for future NASA missions. 

In this Phase I program, a CLRMLI system would be modeled, analyzed, designed, fabricated, installed on a cryotank, and tested for thermal performance for ground/ascent and in-space operation. CLRMLI could provide a robust SOFI replacement, with higher performance, lower mass, able to eliminate freezing/cryopumping of air components during ground and ascent stages. CLRMLI could help meet NASA's cryogenic fluid management requirements such as Zero Boil Off for cryogenic propellant storage and transfer.