NASA Funds Creare to Design Novel Refrigerant Pump

NASA Funds Creare to Design Novel Refrigerant Pump

Creare LLC, a leading developer of energy and fluid systems, has been awarded NASA funding to develop a reliable and vibration-free liquid pump.  The pump will be used in an advanced two-phase pumped loop system.  Such systems enable precise thermal control of instruments and electronics in outer space.

NASA’s future remote sensing science missions require advanced thermal management technologies to provide effective cooling for multiple instruments. Heat is rejected through several radiators. It is also desired to utilize waste heat to keep propellant above the minimal critical temperature. Two-phase pumped loops are an ideal solution for these applications. A critical need for these cooling systems is a refrigerant pump that reliably circulates very slightly subcooled liquid refrigerant in the loop. To this end, Creare is developing an efficient, vibration-free pump.  It has design features to prevent cavitation in the pumping chamber and in the hydrodynamic fluid bearings.  These features enable the pump to achieve a long service life.

Pump Design:  Leveraging Creare’s Turbomachinery Expertise

This project builds upon Creare’s proven pump technologies for space applications.  In a Phase I project, we designed and built a proof-of-concept refrigerant pump and demonstrated its ability to reliably achieve the target flow rate and pressure rise. The minimum required Net Positive Suction Head (NPSH) is less than 0.5 psi.  In Phase II, we will optimize the pump rotor, bearing and motor designs, and assemble a pump prototype. We will also demonstrate its reliability and its steady state and transient performance under prototypical inlet conditions.  We will then deliver it to NASA JPL for further performance evaluation.

Creare’s refrigerant pump enables reliable two-phase pumped loops for precise thermal control of critical instruments in remote sensing satellites.  One example is the Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission.  SWOT aims to survey the Earth’s surface water and map the ocean surface height with greater detail than previously achieved.

Our reliable refrigerant pump design has potential for non-NASA applications, such as advanced thermal control systems for high-power electronics in satellites and aircraft.  It can also be used as a circulating pump for chemicals, fuels and cryogenic fluids.