Sea “Sparker” Snags SBIR/STTR Success
Small business qualifier Phoenix Science & Technology Inc. in Chelmsford, MA received a not to exceed $15 million Phase III, Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) Program contract for Topic N95-005 entitled “Surface Discharge Low Frequency Acoustic Source,” Topic N02-153 entitled “High-Efficiency Plasma Sparkers for New Applications,” and Topic N03-188 entitled “High Source Level Plasma Sparkers Driven by High-Energy Density Capacitors for Navy Applications.”
When trying to find a submarine, a sonar’s power is critical. Since sonar is a form of sound, that often means loudness as well as sound that covers a broad spectrum. Small explosions, as it happens, fit that bill nicely. But Phoenix Science & Technology (PS&T), Inc. has developed a new Sparker acoustic source using electrical impulses as an alternative to the chemical explosives currently used.
The Sparker emits a pulsed electrical discharge with a broadband low frequency sound spectrum that happens to work very well in an environment like ocean water, which conducts sound very well. As such, it offers a safer, more controllable, environmentally benign source for under-water environmental data collection and submarine/torpedo countermeasures – and best of all, it can be “fired” multiple times.
The Sparker is a part of the Tactical Acoustic Measurement and Decision Aid (TAMDA) environmental sonobuoy that collects, processes, and transmits acoustic data required by the US Navy to enhance anti-submarine warfare operations in shallow water. As such, it is just one of the R&D projects being conducted in order to turn the U.S. Navy’s new anti-submarine warfare doctrines into reality.
Under this contract, Phoenix S&T will provide services and materials for engineering tasks including research and development, prototype development and fabrication, demonstration/validation, product development services, product application studies and modeling, fabrication/production of hardware, software design, software development and fabrication, and retrofitting developed products into existing air and sea-based platforms. They will also supply in-service engineering pertaining to sparker acoustic technology, including subcomponents, integration and testing. Finally, Phoenix S&T must also provide the Sensor for Environmental Assessment system.
Work will be performed in Chelmsford, MA and is expected to be complete in August 2010. This contract was competitively procured using SBIR Program Solicitation under Topic N95-005 with two offers received, Topic N02-153 with four offers received and Topic N03-188 with eight offers received. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Lakehurst, NJ issued the contract (N68335-05-D-0016).
N.B. The 2004 Department of the Navy SBIR/STTR Success Stories [PDF], which contains information on Phoenix S&T’s system and many more, makes for fascinating reading. It is highly recommended.