Ultralow-Temperature-Operable Solid Propellant Binder

Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama

A unique binder was developed that exhibits a glass transition temperature of –100 °C, which is more than 50 °C lower than that of traditional HTPB (hydroxyl-terminated polybutadiene) and CTPB (carboxyl-terminated polybutadiene) binders. This innovation would be a solid propellant that would ameliorate low-temperature operability problems for the two-stage Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV).

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Cold weather, Solid propellants, Spacecraft fuel

Carbon Nanotube-Assisted Microwave Healing of Thermally Re-Mendable Composites

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas

A method creates thermally healable composites using carbon nanotubes. Carbon nanotube microwave heating provides a pathway to overcome issues associated with electrical resistive heating networks. Carbon nanotubes embedded within a thermally reversible polymer can be heated by direct exposure to a microwave source. The heat generated by the nanotubes can drive the thermally reversible polymerization of the matrix. Because the microwave source can be focused, the composite can be locally heated at the point of damage thereby reducing the energy requirements for thermal healing. The carbon nanotubes can conform to any shape, allowing the manufacture of complex shapes without concern of damaging the heating network.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Composite materials, Nanotechnology, Radiation

Aluminoborosilicate Supplement for Thermal Protection of a Re-entrant Vehicle

This material can be used in aircraft, turbine engines, automobiles, and any application that requires thermal protection surfaces.

Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California

The Toughened Uni-piece Fibrous Reinforced Oxidation-Resistant Com posite (TUFROC) allows for much more affordable and sustainable operations involving Space Launch Services and other systems that utilize Earth reentry vehicles. TUFROC has an exposed surface design and appropriate materials combination that will allow a space vehicle to survive both the mechanical stresses of the initial ascent, and the extreme heating and stress of re-entry. It provides a thermal protection tile attachment system that is suitable for application to a space vehicle leading edge, and for other uses in extreme heating environments (up to 3600 °F, and possibly higher, for short time intervals).

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Thermal management, Thermal management, Composite materials, Entry, descent, and landing, Spacecraft

Processing and Manufacture of Inorganic-Organic Hybrid Syntactic Structural Cryogenic Insulator

John H. Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio

Reducing the cost and weight of launch structures is essential to meeting NASA goals for reliable access to space. Currently, separate systems are used for structure and pressure containment, cryogenic insulation, and high-temperature insulation. One way of reducing this cost and weight is through the development of multifunctional materials that can eliminate parasitic weight. Combining two functional components — structure and insulation — reduces weight and structural complexity, which usually is akin to fragility in the system, and minimizes the need for parasitic thermal protection and insulation systems.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Composite materials, Insulation, Launch vehicles, Lightweighting

Multifunctional Ablative Thermal Protection System

This material has applications in aerospace systems, manufacturing, and structural components requiring three-dimensional reinforcement.

Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California

NASA has developed a unique and robust multifunctional material called 3-Dimensional Multifunctional Ablative (3DMAT) Thermal Protection System (TPS) that meets both the structural and thermal performance needs for a lunar return mission and beyond. 3DMAT uses a game-changing woven technology tailored to the needs of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) compression pad. Compression pads serve as the interface between the crew module and service module of the Orion MPCV. The compression pads must carry the structural loads generated during launch, space operations, and pyroshock separation of the two modules. They must also serve as an ablative TPS withstanding the high heating of Earth re-entry. 3DMAT leverages NASA’s investment in woven TPS to design, manufacture, test, and demonstrate a prototype material for the Orion compression pads that combines the weaving of quartz yarns with resin transfer molding.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Thermal management, Thermal management, Fibers, Resins, Entry, descent, and landing, Launch vehicles

Hierarchical Support for Nanocatalysts

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas

This work focused on enhancing catalyst activity and durability by developing a method to control size, dispersion, and exposure. Existing nanocatalysts are typically fabricated in bulk or powder form. There are monolithic catalysts, but they rely on meso-porous materials as supports. Bulk nanocatalysts suffer from a lack of complete exposure to reagents, counteracting the benefits of the nanoparticles. Catalysts upon meso-porous support have limited exposure due to diffusion distances through the porous support. This requires higher catalyst loading, and may lead to particle coalescence and deactivation.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Catalysts, Nanomaterials

Control of Carbon Nanotube Density and Tower Height in an Array

Applications include high-density semiconductor chips, and heat dissipation and thermal conduction in personal computers, smartphones, and televisions.

Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California

Use of arrays of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) as an intermediary for transport of electrical particles (e.g., electrons) and/or transport of thermal energy from one body to another has grown. For example, a CNT array may be used for dissipation of thermal energy or accumulated electrical charge associated with operation of an electronics device or system. However, the device or system may require use of different CNT array densities in various regions because of differing transport requirements.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Electronic equipment, Electronic equipment, Nanotechnology, Semiconductors

In-Situ Chemical Analysis of Material Surfaces

Composition by freezing uses laser ablation and laser ionization mass spectrometry for detection of chemical, pharmaceutical, biotech, and hazardous materials.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California

In order to understand whether the ablation laser would cause chemical reactions within the trapped organic molecules during resonant laser ablation of water ice containing organic molecules, a two-layer approach was devised. The first layer consisted of D2O ice containing organics that are inactive for the laser wavelength used (2.94 microns), and shown not to ablate under these conditions. When an additional layer of H2O ice was deposited on top of the D2O layer, both H2O and D2O layers, and the organics embedded in the D2O layer, became ablated due to resonant excitation of the H2O ice layer that transferred energy to the D2O layer. This showed that the organic matter is not damaged.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Lasers, Lasers, Water, Chemicals, Hazardous materials, Test equipment and instrumentation, Test procedures

Flexible, High-Temperature Polyimide/Urea Aerogels

Cross-linked polyimide/urea aerogels are potential candidates for insulation for clothing, wrap-around items such as hoses, and refrigeration units.

Cross-linked silica-based aerogels with polymeric materials, as well as incorporating a flexible linkage into the underlying metal oxide, have been proven to improve strength and resilience over their native, or non-cross-linked, counterparts without adversely affecting porosity and density. In this invention, high-temperature, stable, all-organic polyimide aerogels are prepared as reacting linear polyimide chains with a functional monomer to create branchings that are further room-temperature-cured with multifunctional isocyanate to form a three-dimensional network.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Heat resistant materials, Materials properties, Polymers

Multilayer Insulation Systems

Applications exist where cryogenic fluids or liquefied gases are required, and in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), power transmission in big cities, food freezing, and blood banks.

Cryogenic fluid management (CFM) is a critical technical area that is needed for the successful development of future space exploration. A key challenge is the storability of LH2, LCH4, and LOX propellants for long durations. The storage tanks must be well insulated to prevent over-pressurization and venting, which lead to unacceptable propellant losses for long-duration missions to Mars and beyond.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Liquid propellants, Spacecraft fuel, Thermal management, Thermal management, Storage, Insulation

The U.S. Government does not endorse any commercial product, process, or activity identified on this web site.