DOD SBIR 24.2 Annual

Active
No
Status
Open
Release Date
April 17th, 2024
Open Date
May 15th, 2024
Due Date(s)
June 12th, 2024
Close Date
June 12th, 2024
Topic No.
DLA242-003

Topic

Advancing Scandium Use in Metal Alloys for U.S. Weapon System Production and Sustainment

Agency

Department of DefenseN/A

Program

Type: SBIRPhase: BOTHYear: 2024

Summary

The Department of Defense (DOD) is seeking proposals for the advancement of scandium use in metal alloys for U.S. weapon system production and sustainment. Scandium has unique properties that can significantly increase the performance of aluminum alloys, allowing for reduced weight designs and increased resistance to high temperature and corrosion. The DOD is interested in exploring future defense industrial base uses for scandium, including its substitution for expensive materials and its compatibility with additive manufacturing techniques. Potential applications for scandium-aluminum alloy include missiles, aircraft, space launch vehicles, satellites, soldier systems, military ground vehicles, marine applications, and other weapon systems. The DOD is particularly interested in engaging small businesses to develop and expand expertise and production capacity in scandium-containing materials. The project duration for Phase I is 12 months with a cost of $100,000, while Phase II has a duration of 24 months with a cost of $1,000,000. Proposals should demonstrate proof of concept and include collaboration with established materials companies and DoD weapon system program offices. The goal is to develop commercially viable sources of scandium supply for transition to production in support of DoD and its supply chains. Phase III proposals will be accepted after the completion of Phase I and II projects, with no specific funding associated.

Description

OUSD (R&E) CRITICAL TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Advanced Materials

 

The technology within this topic is restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), 22 CFR Parts 120-130, which controls the export and import of defense-related material and services, including export of sensitive technical data, or the Export Administration Regulation (EAR), 15 CFR Parts 730-774, which controls dual use items. Offerors must disclose any proposed use of foreign nationals (FNs), their country(ies) of origin, the type of visa or work permit possessed, and the statement of work (SOW) tasks intended for accomplishment by the FN(s) in accordance with the Announcement. Offerors are advised foreign nationals proposed to perform on this topic may be restricted due to the technical data under US Export Control Laws.

 

OBJECTIVE: The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) seeks to promote responsive, best value supplies of related materials, components, and systems to Department of Defense (DoD) customers and other DoD stakeholders.  DLA investigates advancements in technologies and business processes for new and improved materials, more efficient means of their production, and competitive domestic supply chains which will lead to greater innovation in current and future defense systems combined with benefits to other commercial and government applications.

 

DLA is interested in exploring future defense industrial base uses for scandium (Sc) because of its unique properties as a pure metal and, as an alloying agent, to significantly increase the performance of traditional aluminum (Al) alloys, and therefore expand the use of Al alloys.  Further benefits include, substituting aluminum-scandium (Al-Sc) alloys for incumbent expensive materials (e.g., titanium) and/or replacing material forms that are both costly and difficult to source (e.g., forging, complex machined parts, and extrusions), as Al-Sc alloys are highly compatible with additive manufacturing techniques.

Scandium can impart high strength properties to Al alloys which allows for reduced weight designs (compared to traditional Al alloy) and components for a wide range of defense platforms and other military items.  Al-Sc alloys exhibit increased resistance to high temperature and corrosion when compared to common Al alloys.  Of further interest, is the high weldability of Al-Sc alloy. Alloys with high weldability can reduce manufacturing labor and other costs associated with joining components and structures. Al-Sc alloy can be especially useful when used as a powder or wire in additive manufacturing. Potential DoD applications for Al-Sc alloy include the production and sustainment of missiles, aircraft, space launch vehicles, satellites, solider systems, military ground vehicles, marine applications, and other weapon systems (e.g., small arms and artillery).

 

While Sc metal has many attractive material characteristics, its cost is frequently considered prohibitive for Al alloying purposes compared to other alloying elements.  In addition, the supply of Sc metal and compounds is limited and highly concentrated in a small number of foreign countries including China and Russia.  As such, there is reluctance to develop wide scale uses for Al-Sc alloys for many applications including DoD weapon systems and large-scale non-defense applications (e.g., commercial aviation and automotive manufacturing).  

 

In the United States mining operations for Sc ore are being planned and developed to feed a domestic supply chain and, recently, new sources of Sc now exist in Canada (an important member country of DoD’s National Technology Industrial Base).  There are also established defense industrial base companies and other businesses in both countries that can significantly contribute to development and commercialization of Al-Sc supply chains for both military and commercial applications.

 

Given the important properties of Sc, and in anticipation of increased affordable domestic supply, DLA is interested in engaging small businesses with the capability to develop and expand expertise and industrial base production capacity of Sc-containing materials, especially in areas relevant to the supply of Al-Sc alloy components for DoD end-uses.

 

Specific materials, processing and manufacturing areas of interest include:

Raw material refining
High purity Sc metals, compounds, and alloys
Additive manufacturing feedstock
Additively manufactured DoD systems prototype parts

 

Research and Development (R&D) efforts selected under this topic shall demonstrate and involve a degree of risk where the technical feasibility of the proposed work has not been fully established.  Further, proposed efforts must be judged to be at a Technology and/or Manufacturing Readiness Level (TRL/MRL) 6 or less, but greater than TRL/MRL 3 to receive funding consideration.

 

TRL 3.  (Analytical and Experimental Critical Function and/or Characteristic Proof of Concept)

TRL 6.  (System/Subsystem Model or Prototype Demonstration in a Relevant Environment)

 

DESCRIPTION: DLA seeks SBIR project opportunities in new and innovative materials, processing, and manufacturing of Sc compounds, Sc metal, Al-Sc alloy and master alloys, and related areas of additive manufacturing. While Al and Sc are the primary metals of interest for this solicitation, it is anticipated that additional alloying elements may be included to tailor the final alloy properties.  Specific areas of interest include:

Processing mining ores (and/or scrap waste streams) into high purity Sc compounds (ex., Sc-oxide) feedstock for production of pure Sc metal, Al-Sc alloy, master alloys, etc. 
Commercial production of high purity Sc metal (domestic feedstock preferred)
Commercial production of Al-Sc alloy powder and wire for additive manufacturing
Demonstrating additively manufactured Al-Sc alloy parts for DoD weapon systems.

 

DLA seeks opportunities that include strong industry supply chain collaboration with established materials companies relevant to the above areas of interest in Sc materials processing, as well as strong collaboration with traditional or non-traditional DoD weapon systems suppliers.  DLA similarly desires SBIR opportunities that include collaboration with interested DoD weapon system program offices and/or relevant DoD RDT&E organizations.

 

PROJECT DURATION and COST: Proposals exceeding these limits will not be evaluated.

PHASE I: Not to exceed a duration of 12 months and cost of $100,000.

PHASE II: Not to exceed a duration of 24 months and cost of $1,000,000.

 

PHASE I: Phase I will demonstrate proof of concept in one or more of the above areas of interest in scandium materials and processing.  A technology development and commercialization roadmap will be produced along with a preliminary business case analysis for transition and industrial scale up.  Strong industry supply chain collaboration with established materials companies relevant to the above areas of interest in scandium materials and processing is expected, along with involvement of one or more traditional or non-traditional DoD weapon systems suppliers.  Strong support from one or more interested DoD weapon system program offices and/or relevant DoD RDT&E organization required.

 

PHASE II: Depending on Phase I results, Phase II will consist of establishing pilot scale or low-rate production of technologies that are successfully demonstrated in Phase I.  Additional activities may include further materials and processing testing, characterization, and data base development of related materials and processes that can be used by future producers of scandium materials of interest (e.g., compounds, metals, alloys, and master alloys as well as related additive manufacturing powders and wire, and fabricators of aluminum scandium end-items).  Development of a detailed business case analysis and commercialization plan will be required.

 

Strong industry supply chain collaboration with established materials companies relevant to the above areas of interest in scandium materials and processing, along with involvement from traditional and/or non-traditional DoD weapon systems suppliers, is required, along with strong support from interested DoD weapon system program offices and/or relevant DoD RDT&E organizations.

Innovative materials and processes, and commercially viable sources of their supply, shall be developed with the goal to readily transition to production in support of DoD and its supply chains.

 

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Phase III is any proposal that derives from, extends or completes a transition from a Phase I or II project.  Phase III proposals will be accepted after the completion of Phase I and or Phase II projects.   

 

There is no specific funding associated with Phase III, except Phase III is not allowed to use SBIR/STTR coded funding.  Any other type of funding is allowed.

 

Phase III proposal Submission.  Phase III proposals are emailed directly to DLA SBIR2@dla.mil.  The PMO team will set up evaluations and coordinate the funding and contracting actions depending on the outcome of the evaluations.  A Phase III proposal should follow the same format as Phase II for the content and format.  There are, however, no limitations to the amount of funding requested, or the period of performance.  All other guidelines apply. 

 

Transition Plan

Period of Performance:  TBD
Budget: $ TBD

 

This Phase of the project should include:

Delivery of a production level product to J68 ready for integration into the overall DLA Enterprise system.



Develop a sustainment plan to support the delivered system for the lifetime of the program.

 

REFERENCES:

Mineral Commodity Summaries 2024, U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
Jones, R.; Peng, D.; Ang, A.; Aston, R.W.; Schoenborn, N.D.; Phan, N.D. A Comparison of the Damage Tolerance of AA7075-T6, AA2024-T3, and Boeing Space, Intelligence, and Weapons Systems AM-Built LPBF Scalmalloy. Aerospace 2023, 10, 733. https://doi.org/10.3390/aerospace10080733

 

KEYWORDS: Scandium, scandium-aluminum alloy, aerospace materials, domestic supply chain, additive manufacturing