Special Coverage


Spiral Orbit Tribometer

Friction and lubricant degradation rate can be quantified rapidly. The spiral orbit tribometer (SOT) bridges the gap between full-scale life testing and typically unrealistic accelerated life testing of ball-bearing lubricants in conjunction with bearing ball and race materials. The SOT operates under realistic conditions and quickly produces results, thereby providing information that can guide the selection of lubricant, ball, and race materials early in a design process.

Posted in: Mechanics, Machinery & Automation, Mechanical Components, Briefs, TSP


Ingestible Thermometer Pill Aids Athletes in Beating the Heat

From the football turf to high above the Earth, heat exhaustion is a life-threatening concern. Heat exhaustion, or hyperthermia, is an acute condition caused by excessive exposure to heat and dehydration. It occurs when the body can no longer dissipate heat adequately because of extreme environmental conditions or increased heat production from within. Heat exhaustion may progress to heatstroke when the body’s thermoregulatory mechanisms become overwhelmed and fail, ultimately leading to brain and organ damage or even death.

Posted in: NTB, Spinoff


NASA Institute Studies and Identifies Martian Land Formations

The Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI) in Houston is part of the Universities Space Research Association, and is a NASAfunded institute that conducts research in the lunar, planetary, and terrestrial sciences on behalf of university science departments and NASA. The most recent project between the University of Houston (UH) and the LPI seeks to identify and characterize the natural landscape structures of Mars, such as the inside of craters, valley networks, and the outside and inside rims of craters and inter-crater plains. Identifying these structures is important because rocks, minerals, and geologic landforms hold clues to past water activity on Mars. Understanding the history of water on Mars is a part of NASA’s long-term Mars Exploration Project.

Posted in: Application Briefs


Versatile Friction Stir Welding/Friction Plug Welding System

A single system could perform any FSW or FPW operation. A proposed system of tooling, machinery, and control equipment would be capable of performing any of several friction stir welding (FSW) and friction plug welding (FPW) operations. These operations would include the following:

Posted in: Manufacturing & Prototyping, Briefs, TSP


Techniques for Connecting Superconducting Thin Films

Junctions can be tailored to obtain desired levels of electrical resistance. Several improved techniques for connecting superconducting thin films on substrates have been developed. The techniques afford some versatility for tailoring the electronic and mechanical characteristics of junctions between superconductors in experimental electronic devices. The techniques are particularly useful for making superconducting or alternatively normally conductive junctions (e.g., Josephson junctions) between patterned superconducting thin films in order to exploit electron quantum-tunneling effects.

Posted in: Manufacturing & Prototyping, Briefs


Variable-Tension-Cord Suspension/Vibration-Isolation System

Cord tensions are adjusted to optimize vibration-isolation properties. A system for mechanical suspension and vibration isolation of a machine or instrument is based on the use of Kevlar (or equivalent aromatic polyamide) cord held in variable tension between the machine or instrument and a surrounding frame. The basic concept of such a tensioned-cord suspension system (including one in which the cords are made of aromatic polyamide fibers) is not new by itself; what is new here is the additional provision for adjusting the tension during operation to optimize vibration-isolation properties.

Posted in: Mechanical Components, Briefs, TSP


Rapid-Chill Cryogenic Coaxial Direct- Acting Solenoid Valve

A commercially available cryogenic direct-acting solenoid valve has been modified to incorporate a rapid-chill feature. In the original application for which this feature was devised, there is a requirement to ensure that at all times, the valve outlet flow consists entirely or mostly of liquid; that is, there is a requirement to minimize vaporization of cryogenic liquid flowing through the valve. This translates to a requirement to chill interior valve surfaces in contact with the flowing liquid.

Posted in: Mechanical Components, Briefs, TSP