Status Report

NASA Teaming Opportunity to Develop and Characterize Boron Nitride Nanotubes for Aerospace and Space Applications

By SpaceRef Editor
March 8, 2011
Filed under , ,

Synopsis – Mar 07, 2011

General Information

Solicitation Number: SS-BNNT
Posted Date: Mar 07, 2011
FedBizOpps Posted Date: Mar 07, 2011
Recovery and Reinvestment Act Action: No
Original Response Date: Mar 18, 2011
Current Response Date: Mar 18, 2011
Classification Code: A — Research and Development
NAICS Code: 541712 – Research and Development in the Physical, Engineering, and Life Sciences (except Biotechnology)

Contracting Office Address

NASA/Langley Research Center, Mail Stop 144, Industry Assistance Office, Hampton, VA 23681-0001


This partnering synopsis solicits potential partners to participate in developing a proposal addressing the goals and objectives of NASA Research Announcement (NRA) NNH11ZUA001N, NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) and NASA Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) NNH11ZUA001K, Unique and Innovative Space Technology. The BAA and NRA can be accessed at: .

Participation in this partnering synopsis is open to all categories of U.S. and non-U.S. organizations, including educational institutions, industry, not-for-profit institutions, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, as well as NASA Centers and other U.S. Government Agencies. Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Other Minority Universities (OMUs), small disadvantaged businesses (SDBs), veteran-owned small businesses, service disabled veteran-owned small businesses, HUBzone small businesses, and women-owned small businesses (WOSBs) are encouraged to apply. Participation by non-U.S. organizations is welcome but subject to NASA’s policy of no exchange of funds, in which each government supports its own national participants and associated costs.

Under the Unique and Innovative Space Technology BAA, the Game Changing Technology Division (GCT), within NASA’s Office of the Chief Technologist (OCT) is soliciting executive summaries, white papers, and proposals for research and development (R&D) for technology that is innovative and unique and promises to enable revolutionary (game-changing) improvements to the efficiency and effectiveness of our country’s space capability. Novel (unique) capabilities are sought in any of the NASA Space Technology Grand Challenges or the NASA draft Space Technology Roadmaps.

The Space Technology Grand Challenges can be found at: .

The Space Technology Roadmap (Draft) can be found at: .

Under the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC), the NRA solicits multiple studies, each of which will investigate an architecture, mission, or system concept that has the potential to change the possible in aeronautics or space. NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) is also part of the Office of Chief Technologist (OCT). Concepts proposed for NIAC Phase I studies must be innovative and visionary, technically substantiated, and very early in development (10+ years out; Technology Readiness Level 1, 2, or early 3). Focused technology maturation and incremental improvement are explicitly not of interest in this program.

In response to the NASA Research Announcement (NRA) NNH11ZUA001N, NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) and Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) NNH11ZUA001K, Unique and Innovative Space Technology, partners are sought for efforts focused on developing and characterizing boron nitride nanotubes (BNNTs) for aerospace applications. BNNTs are structurally a close analog of carbon nanotubes (CNTs), with the carbon atoms alternately substituted with boron and nitrogen atoms. The BNNT structure resembles a large aspect ratio cylinder with a diameter of several nanometers and a length of many microns to millimeters and thus can be incorporated into composites and even spun into fibers. The fibers are calculated to be the world’s strongest structural fiber above 400*C, with an elastic modulus approaching 1 TPa. High aspect ratio BNNTs are grown by a unique high temperature method that minimizes defects and creates long tubes. BNNTs are durable at low temperature in space (-157*C) and good thermal stability up to 800*C with a low coefficient of thermal expansion. Their strength-to-weight ratios and stiffness are greater than 95% of carbon nanotube values. The BNNTs described here have been measured to be as strong as Kevlar, yet they have twice the service temperature. Boron has one of the largest neutron capture cross sections of all elements in the periodic table. Nitrogen has a larger neutron capture cross section than carbon. BNNT materials have great potential for radiation shielding applications. The goal of this partnership is further develop BNNT lightweight materials to enable advanced future aircraft and spacecraft with improvements in aircraft performance indicators such as reduced vehicle weight, increased strength to weight ratio, and improved durability. BNNT-containing fibers, fabrics, and composites for radiation shielding materials to shield against solar particle events (SPE) and neutrons will be fabricated and tested.

In particular NASA LaRC is seeking potential partners having demonstrated experience and expertise with synthesis of highly crystalline, high aspect ratio BNNTs, quality control and evaluation, characterization (High Resolution Scanning Electron Microscopy (HRSEM), Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM), mechanical properties, electron energy loss spectroscopy (EELS), Ultraviolet (UV) Raman), and purification and dispersion of BNNTs. NASA’s intended applications include but are not limited to radiation shielding, structural composites, sensors, and thermal protection systems. Experience and expertise is therefore sought for application development using the BNNTs in aerospace systems.

Potential partners are requested to indicate which specific opportunity they are interested in partnering with NASA LaRC, the NIAC NRA and/or the Unique and Innovative Space Technology BAA.

Teaming with providers of and leveraging emerging technologies, such as current and recent Small Business Innovative Research awards (http://sbir.gsfc.nasa.fov/SBIR/awards.htm ), is of special interest.

If selected through this synopsis, it is expected that the selected partner(s) will work with NASA LaRC scientists and engineers to jointly develop the proposal. If the proposal is selected, NASA LaRC anticipates issuing contracts or other agreements to the selected partner(s) for performance of the proposed tasks.

This partnering opportunity does not guarantee selection for award of any contracts or other agreements, nor is it to be construed as a commitment by NASA to pay for the information solicited. It is expected that the partner(s) selected would provide (at no cost to NASA) conceptual designs, technical data, proposal input, project schedules, and cost estimates.

Partner selections will be made by LaRC based on the listed criteria in the following order of importance:

(1) Relevant experience, past performance, technical capability, key personnel availability, and demonstration of development of boron nitride nanotubes. This criterion evaluates the proposer’s relevant recent experience, past performance in similar development activities, technical capability to perform the development, and key personnel available to support the development. Substantive evidence of successful participation in similar developments should be included.

(2) Cost and schedule control. This criterion evaluates the proposer’s ability to control both cost and schedule. The proposer should provide evidence of successfully controlling cost and schedule for similar development programs and provide evidence of management processes in this area.

(3) Facilities. This criterion evaluates the proposer’s facilities (development, testing, and analysis) to conduct the development or demonstration of the proposed task. The proposer should discuss facility availability, access, and the ability to meet the proposed objectives.

NASA will not reimburse organizations for the cost of submitting information in response to this synopsis. NASA will not pay for technical assessment or proposal preparation costs incurred by the team members.

RESPONSE INSTRUCTIONS: Responses to this partnering synopsis shall be limited to 8 pages in not less than 12-point font. Responses must address the aforementioned evaluation criteria.

All responses shall be submitted to LaRC electronically via email by 5:00pm EST on March 18, 2011 to Catharine Fay ( and Teresa Hass (

Technical and Programmatic questions should be directed to Catharine Fay ( Procurement questions should be directed to

Point of Contact

Name: Teresa M Hass
Title: Contracting Officer
Phone: 757-864-8496
Fax: 757-864-8863

Name: Robert B. Gardner
Title: Contracting Officer
Phone: 757-864-2525
Fax: 757-864-7898

SpaceRef staff editor.