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Regenerable Trace-Contaminant Sorbent for the Primary Life Support System (PLSS)

This technology has applications in air-revitalization systems on spacecraft, submarines, automobiles, and commercial aircraft. Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas The NASA objective of expanding the human experience into the far reaches of space requires the development of regenerable life support systems. This work addresses the development of a regenerable air-revitalization system for trace-contaminant (TC) removal for the spacesuit used in extravehicular activities (EVAs). Currently, a bed of granular activated carbon is used for TC control. The carbon is impregnated with phosphoric acid to enhance ammonia sorption, but this also makes regeneration difficult, if not impossible. Temperatures as high as 200 °C have been shown to be required for only partial desorption of ammonia on time scales of 18,140 hours. Neither these elevated temperatures nor the long time needed for sorbent regeneration are acceptable. Thus, the activated carbon has been treated as an expendable resource, and the sorbent bed has been oversized in order to last throughout the entire mission.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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Lithium Fluoride as a Polysulfide Shuttle Inhibitor for Lithium Sulfur Chemistry

This invention imparts properties such as reinforcement, enhanced tensile strength, and/or electrical and thermal conductivity to composites. Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas In a lithium sulfur cell, the reduction of sulfur to lithium sulfide is a critical series of reactions that provides a large theoretical capacity of 1,672 mAh/g sulfur. One of many challenges in this system is the solubility of generated lithium polysulfides during the charge/discharge process. These polysulfides derived from the reduction of elemental sulfur are soluble in organic electrolytes, and can be reduced at the anode, causing an undesired reaction. Polysulfide species can also accumulate at the surface of the cathode and be further reduced to lower-order polysulfides such as Li2S2 or Li2S. The insulating nature of these lower-order polysulfides blocks the electron pathway on the carbon cathode.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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Fibers of Aligned Single-Wall Carbon Nanotubes and Process for Making the Same

This invention imparts properties such as reinforcement, enhanced tensile strength, and/or electrical and thermal conductivity to composites. Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas Single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) are fullerenes of closed-cage carbon molecules typically arranged in hexagons and pentagons. Commonly known as “buckytubes,” these cylindrical carbon structures have extraordinary properties, including high electrical and thermal conductivity, as well as high strength and stiffness. With intrinsic strength estimated to be on the order of 100 times that of steel, SWNTs are a possible strengthening reinforcement in composite materials. The intrinsic electronic properties of SWNTs also make them electrical conductors and useful in applications involving field mission devices such as flat-panel displays, and in polymers used for radio frequency interference and electromagnetic shielding that require electrical conductance properties.

Posted in: Briefs

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Enhancing MRI Contrast by Geometrical Confinement of Small Imaging Agents Within Nanoporous Particles

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has evolved into one of the most powerful, non-invasive diagnostic imaging techniques in medicine and biomedical research. The superior resolution and in-depth anatomical details provided by MRI are essential for early diagnosis of many diseases. Chemical contrast agents (CAs) have been widely used for improving the sensitivity and diagnostic confidence in MRI.

Posted in: Briefs

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NASA Flywheel for iPad

John H. Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio NASA Flywheel is an augmented reality application intended to highlight NASA Glenn’s research efforts in the area of flywheel energy storage systems. The app utilizes a printed optical target, available on the GRC Flywheel Program brochure and through the NASA Glenn Web portal, to present users with 3D views of flywheel hardware and space applications. Additional video and imagery are also included in the application package. The software has been compiled and bundled as an iOS app for the iPad, and is intended for release through the Apple App Store.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Power Management

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Three-Dimensional Photovoltaics Array for Laser-Based Power Transfer

Potential applications include situations in which there is a need to create electrical power at a remote location. Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland A standard solar array is a flat panel configured of many individual solar cells, wired in series or parallel, depending on their junction configuration and material. Since the solar flux is constant depending on the distance from the Sun, the maximum energy conversion for a given solar panel depends upon the capability to absorb as many spectral peaks as possible (different materials) across the total solar spectrum. If the radiative source is a man-made device such as a laser, parked in a different orbit or on Earth, then the impinging intensity is narrow spectrally, coherent and accurately pointed, and capable of very high intensities. Thus, the materials can be tailored to match the incoming radiation for maximum absorption.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Power Management

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Nanowire-Based Piezoelectric Power Generation

Energy scavenging is appealing for powering sensors, and for charging cellphones and small consumer electronics. Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California Sensors have improved in terms of size, capability, and power consumption, but their deployment in remote areas is limited by battery power supplies. Using piezoelectric (PE) materials for energy scavenging is a possible way to remedy the situation. The technology developed in this work converts existing sources of nonpolluting energy (mechanical strain) from nature into electricity. The quantity of energy produced is not massive, but it can be easily generated from free sources such as vibration and electromagnetic waves.

Posted in: Briefs, Power Management

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