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Space Optical Communications Using Laser Beams
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Active Response Gravity Offload and Method
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Gadolinia-Doped Ceria Cathodes for Electrolysis of CO2

These electrodes have relatively low area-specific resistances. Gadolinia-doped ceria, or GDC, (Gd0.4Ce0.6O2–δ, where the value of δ in this material varies, depending on the temperature and oxygen concentration in the atmosphere in which it is being used) has shown promise as a cathode material for high- temperature electrolysis of carbon dioxide in solid oxide electrolysis cells. The polarization resistance of a GDC electrode is significantly less than that of an otherwise equivalent electrode made of any of several other materials that are now in use or under consideration for use as cathodes for reduction of carbon dioxide. In addition, GDC shows no sign of deterioration under typical temperature and gas-mixture operating conditions of a high-temperature electrolyzer.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Materials

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Alternative OTEC Scheme for a Submarine Robot

Expansion/contraction of a wax upon freezing/thawing would be exploited. A proposed system for exploiting the ocean thermal gradient to generate power would be based on the thawing-expansion/ freezing-contraction behavior of a wax or perhaps another suitable phase-change material. The power generated by this system would be used to recharge the batteries in a battery-powered unmanned underwater vehicle [UUV (essentially, a small exploratory submarine robot)] of a type that has been deployed in large numbers in research pertaining to global warming. A UUV of this type travels between the ocean surface and various depths, measuring temperature and salinity.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Mechanical Components

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Utilizing Ocean Thermal Energy in a Submarine Robot

An OTEC thermodynamic cycle would be divided into surface and depth phases. A proposed system would exploit the ocean thermal gradient for recharging the batteries in a battery-powered unmanned underwater vehicle [UUV (essentially, a small exploratory submarine robot)] of a type that has been deployed in large numbers in research pertaining to global warming. A UUV of this type travels between the ocean surface and depths, measuring temperature and salinity. The proposed system is related to, but not the same as, previously reported ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) systems that exploit the ocean thermal gradient but consist of stationary apparatuses that span large depth ranges.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Mechanical Components

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Fuel-Cell Power Systems Incorporating Mg-Based H2 Generators

Hydrogen would be generated from magnesium and steam. Two hydrogen generators based on reactions involving magnesium and steam have been proposed as means for generating the fuel (hydrogen gas) for such fuel-cell power systems as those to be used in the drive systems of advanced motor vehicles. The hydrogen generators would make it unnecessary to rely on any of the hydrogen-storage systems developed thus far that are, variously, too expensive, too heavy, too bulky, and/or too unsafe to be practical.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Mechanical Components

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Sensitive, Rapid Detection of Bacterial Spores

This capability is beneficial for medicine, public health, and biowarfare defense. A method of sensitive detection of bacterial spores within delays of no more than a few hours has been developed to provide an alternative to a prior three-day NASA standard culture-based assay. A capability for relatively rapid detection of bacterial spores would be beneficial for many endeavors, a few examples being agriculture, medicine, public health, defense against biowarfare, water supply, sanitation, hygiene, and the food-packaging and medical-equipment industries.

Posted in: Briefs, Medical

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Adenosine Monophosphate-Based Detection of Bacterial Spores

AMP is released by means of heat shock, then detected via bioluminescence. A method of rapid detection of bacterial spores is based on the discovery that a heat shock consisting of exposure to a temperature of 100 °C for 10 minutes causes the complete release of adenosine monophosphate (AMP) from the spores. This method could be an alternative to the method described in the immediately preceding article. Unlike that method and related prior methods, the present method does not involve germination and cultivation; this feature is an important advantage because in cases in which the spores are those of pathogens, delays involved in germination and cultivation could increase risks of infection. Also, in comparison with other prior methods that do not involve germination, the present method affords greater sensitivity.

Posted in: Briefs, Medical

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CGH Figure Testing of Aspherical Mirrors in Cold Vacuums

Room-temperature and cryogenic tests yield complementary data on surface-figure errors. An established method of room-temperature interferometric null testing of mirrors having simple shapes (e.g., flat, spherical, or spheroidal) has been augmented to enable measurement of errors in the surface figures of off-axis, non-axisymmetric, aspherical mirrors when the mirrors are located inside cryogenic vacuum chambers. The established method involves the use of a computer-generated hologram (CGH), functionally equivalent to a traditional null lens, to modify the laser beam of an imaging interferometer to obtain a reference wavefront that matches the ideal surface figure of a mirror under test. The CGH is inserted at the appropriate position and orientation in the optical path of the imaging interferometer, which, in turn, is appropriately positioned and oriented with respect to the mirror under test. Deviations of the surface figure of the mirror from the ideal surface figure manifest themselves as interference fringes. Interferograms are recorded and analyzed to deduce figure errors.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Physical Sciences

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