Special Coverage

Transducer-Actuator Systems for On-Machine Measurements and Automatic Part Alignment
Wide-Area Surveillance Using HD LWIR Uncooled Sensors
Heavy Lift Wing in Ground (WIG) Cargo Flying Boat
Technique Provides Security for Multi-Robot Systems
Bringing New Vision to Laser Material Processing Systems
NASA Tests Lasers’ Ability to Transmit Data from Space
Converting from Hydraulic Cylinders to Electric Actuators
Automating Optimization and Design Tasks Across Disciplines
Vibration Tables Shake Up Aerospace and Car Testing
Supercomputer Cooling System Uses Refrigerant to Replace Water

Multi-Dimensional Information Visualization Software

This program provides insight into data collected from networks and network simulations.

DiVisa is a multi-dimensional information visualization tool that en ables researchers to understand the behavior of network data.

Posted in: Briefs, Software

Ammonia Recovery System for Wastewater

NASA's Ammonia Recovery System for Wastewater was developed for potential use as part of the Environmental Control and Life Support Systems (ECLSS) on the International Space Station. The system uses an affordable media that is highly selective for ammonia. Ammonia concentrations in wastewater as high as 100,000 ppm can be reduced to less than 1 ppm. ECLSS conditions require low power usage, and the avoidance of high-temperature and high-pressure operations. The state-of-the-art for ammonia removal involves biological processes or ion exchange, and neither of these meets NASA's ammonia capture/recovery needs. Biological processes have high complexity, high volume requirements, and introduce contaminants in the effluent. Ion exchange is not very selective for ammonia, and requires regeneration, which requires large amounts of consumables and produces impure ammonia.

Posted in: Briefs, Green Design & Manufacturing

Sandia Cooler

Applications include laptops and other electronic devices, automotive, appliances, and any device comprising one or more forced-air exchangers.

Heat exchangers are used for the transfer of heat between two or more media. The media may be separated by a solid wall so that they never mix, or they may be in direct contact. Heat exchangers may be used in HVAC systems, power plants, and mechanical devices and systems that require heat transfer. Examples of systems where heat dissipation would be desirable are various electromechanical systems, and electronics applications such as conventional computing systems. In a typical computing system that includes a CPU, one or more memory devices, and other circuitry, cooling of the CPU in particular may be an important design consideration.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components

Products of Tomorrow: August 2017

This column presents technologies that have applications in commercial areas, possibly creating the products of tomorrow. To learn more about each technology, see the contact information provided for that innovation.

Posted in: Articles, Batteries, Electronics, Coatings & Adhesives, Materials

Ruck Dock Load Carriage Connector System

This device is used by civilians and military personnel who wear heavy backpacks, such as campers, rangers, firefighters, hikers, and soldiers.

Soldiers, civilians engaged in activities such as hiking, and public safety personnel engaged in search and rescue missions all require reliable systems for the effective carriage of necessary equipment. The most simplistic backpacks and rucksacks often do not incorporate a frame or other rigid load-distribution structure. Such frameless packs are suitable only for relatively light loads, as the bulk of the weight is transferred solely at two points: the shoulders of the user. Additionally, without auxiliary mounting points, the frameless backpack is subject to significant bouncing or swaying as the user runs or jumps.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components

4D Printing of Load-Bearing and Predictable Structures

Moveable and shape-changing components are created using multi-material 3D printers.

Research is being performed in adding a fourth dimension to 3D printers — the dimension of time. This technique, called 4D printing, creates moveable and shape-variable objects, such as flat components, that can be folded into three-dimensional objects at a later point, or even objects that can change their shape as a function of external influences.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping

RFID System for Management of High-Risk Materials

This system safeguards the management of sensitive items in storage, transportation, and disposition.

For years, radio frequency identification (RFID) technology has been used in a variety of applications, from passports to inventory tracking. Homeland security concerns have heightened the need for sensitive, real-time tracking of thousands of radioactive and hazardous material packages to ensure accountability, safety, security, and worker and public health.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors

Wireless Damage Location Sensing System

The wireless, passive SansEC sensor detects package tampering, medication levels, temperature, and spoilage.

NASA Langley Research Center researchers have developed a wireless, open-circuit SansEC (Sans Electrical Connections) sensor that can be used for pharmaceutical applications without the need for physical contact. Many attributes of a container can be monitored, such as liquid or powder levels, temperature of contents, and changes caused by spoilage. Tampering can also be detected. The unique design of this thin-film sensor allows many of these properties to be measured with the sensor external to the container/package. Fill levels can be measured without the need to open the container. At the core of the technology is the NASA award-winning SansEC sensor, which is damage-resilient and environmentally friendly to manufacture and use. The sensors use a magnetic field response measurement acquisition device to provide power to the sensors and to acquire physical property measurements from them.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors

Improved Two-Step Replication Process for Producing Precision Optical Mirrors

Production of precision optical mirrors by replication requires molds or mandrels of the complementary shape. For example, replicating a concave mirror requires a convex mandrel. Convex shapes are difficult to fabricate and test since they do not focus light. Convex mandrels are therefore costly when they are available. Their sizes are limited to 1-2 meters. Two-step or double replication is well known in the art. In the traditional method, a specific polymer resin system with fillers is used to replicate an existing concave mirror (designated as “mother”) to produce a convex intermediate designated as “daughter.” The same material is then used to replicate the daughter, creating a third-generation concave that is designated as “granddaughter.”

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping

Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) Coating of High-Precision Components Produced by Selective Laser Melting (SLM)

Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) is being used as a means of coating various substrate materials with a variety of metallic and ceramic oxides for corrosion and thermal protection. The technology necessary to develop a state-of-the-art, low-cost method of polishing and coating a one-piece combustion device using electro-polishing (EP) and ALD was demonstrated in this work. By combining material components made using Selective Laser Melting (SLM) with the process of EP and the application of uniform thin-film coatings using ALD, a complete, scalable manufacturing process can be developed by which high-precision, complex components can be produced at a fraction of their current cost. SLM technology has shown the potential to reduce production costs by 70% or more for complex propulsion component fabrication compared to traditional manufacturing techniques.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping

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