AFRL wins national federal lab awards

Jeremy Banik, Air Force Research Laboratory Space Vehicles Directorate's principal investigator on the Roll-Out Solar Array program, shows the AFRL-developed boom for the solar array. The boom is 16 feet long, and rolls out and back up using strain energy.

Jeremy Banik, Air Force Research Laboratory Space Vehicles Directorate's principal investigator on the Roll-Out Solar Array program, shows the AFRL-developed boom for the solar array. The boom is 16 feet long, and rolls out and back up using strain energy.

Brent Taft, Air Force Research Laboratory Space Vehicles Directorate thermal systems lead, shows an oscillating heat pipe and an oscillating heat pipe by itself.  An oscillating heat pipe can remove 14 times more heat from electronics than the technology in use now.

Brent Taft, Air Force Research Laboratory Space Vehicles Directorate thermal systems lead, shows an oscillating heat pipe and an oscillating heat pipe by itself. An oscillating heat pipe can remove 14 times more heat from electronics than the technology in use now.

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- The Air Force Research Laboratory Space Vehicles Directorate at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico won two Excellence in Technology Transfer Awards from the Federal Laboratory Consortium (FLC) for their work in Oscillating Heat Pipes for High Power Electronics Thermal Management and High Strain Composites for Spacecraft Deployable Structures.

The two projects are spearheaded by Dr. Andrew Williams who leads the directorate’s Integrated Structures branch.  

“From among the 300 plus Federal laboratories supported by the FLC, the Excellence in Technology Transfer Award is presented annually to laboratory employees who have accomplished outstanding work in the process of transferring federally developed technology. This year your laboratory is one of a select number of recipients, an indication that your nomination was truly of the highest caliber,” the FLC award notification letter reads. 

Oscillating Heat Pipes (OHPs) for High Power Electronics Thermal Management is a technology developed by Dr. Brenton Taft, Sally Smith, and Dr. Joy Stein. OHPs are a solution to the problem of heat waste from advanced electronics. This issue of heat waste applies to every sort of advanced electronic system, from computers and consumer electronics to aerospace systems and satellites where a few components run at 10 percent of their terrestrial performance levels because running them any higher will result in overheating and failure. 

This technology was adapted by ThermAvant Technologies, a small business from Columbia, Missouri. After the successful transfer of technology to ThermAvant, Raytheon became the first customer of the OHP technology. Since 2013, the successful development, demonstration, and transition of OHPs have led to more than 14 procurement agreements. 

Developing and launching satellites is challenging and expensive, which leads to an expensive launch, costing around $10,000 per pound. It’s crucial to reduce mass on space-bound technologies, which is where the High Strain Composites for Space Craft Deployable Structures technology comes into play. The work done by Dr. Jeremy Banik and Dr. Michael Peterson supplies spacecraft with compact solar arrays which are deployed once in orbit. This AFRL technology uses high strain composites to help deploy instead of the typical joint, motor, and spring technology that have been popular for the last four decades. 

Roccor LLC, a Longmont, Colorado, aerospace engineering firm, signed two exclusive Patent License Agreements to license a portfolio of 6 patented technologies from the directorate in August of 2016. The technologies help advance their work in building solar array development systems to support mega-constellations. 

Thirty FLC awards are given annually. This year’s winners represent 24 laboratories from 10 federal agencies. The award ceremony will take place April 25 at the FLC National meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.