2016 Create the Future Design Contest: Sustainable Technologies Category Winner

DESOLENATOR — WATER FROM SUNSHINE “Desolenator is extremely proud and thankful to all those who voted for us. We believe that the global water crisis is a serious issue, and winning recognition from a leading publication offers great support to our efforts. We will surely return to share our progress with readers over the coming years.” William Janssen, Desolenator, London, UKThe Desolenator is a water-purification technology that decontaminates water from any source using only solar energy. The technology is a very affordable ($0.005/L) “at-source” method of water purification. It offers a combination of features and capabilities that makes it extremely well suited for household use. It is GSM-mobile enabled and is data-driven through sensors, enabling service through micro mobile payment. It is eco-friendly, has a lifespan of up to 20 years, doesn’t require filters/ membranes, doesn’t drain the main’s electricity, and doesn’t expel toxic waste into the ocean. The long-term goal is to prevent the worsening of the water crisis.

Posted in: Articles, Renewable Energy, Solar Power, Green Design & Manufacturing, Greenhouse Gases, Design processes, Sun and solar, Sustainable development, Water reclamation


Products of Tomorrow: November 2016

The technologies NASA develops don’t just blast off into space. They also improve our lives here on Earth. Life-saving search-and-rescue tools, implantable medical devices, advances in commercial aircraft safety, increased accuracy in weather forecasting, and the miniature cameras in our cellphones are just some of the examples of NASA-developed technology used in products today.

Posted in: Products, Solar Power, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Sensors, Test & Measurement


Method of Forming Textured Silicon Substrate by Maskless Cryogenic Etching

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has developed an advanced energy-storage device to accommodate portable devices, minimize emissions from automobiles, and enable more challenging space missions. The use of silicon for the anode of lithium ion (Li-ion) batteries is attractive because silicon has the highest theoretical charge capacity of any material when used as an anode in a Li-ion battery. Conventional silicon anodes undergo large-volume expansions and contractions with the absorption and desorption of Li-ions, however, and this results in pulverization of the anode after several charge and discharge cycles. JPL’s innovative Li-ion battery anodes are made of micro-textured silicon, which is able to accommodate the stress of expansion and contraction during the charging cycle. These robust silicon anodes make high-capacity, rapid-charge-rate Li-ion batteries practical.

Posted in: Briefs, Power Management, Energy, Battery cell chemistry, Energy storage systems, Lithium-ion batteries, Silicon alloys


Fully Premixed, Low-Emission, High-Pressure, Multi-Fuel Burner

Applications include use in aircraft, spacecraft, and heating and boilers for commercial and residential systems.NASA’s Glenn Research Center has developed a novel design for a fully premixed, high-pressure burner capable of operating on a variety of gaseous fuels and oxidizers, including hydrogen-air mixtures, with a low pressure drop. The burner provides a rapidly and uniformly mixed fuel-oxidizer mixture that is suitable for use in a fully premixed combustion regime that has the benefits of low pollutant emissions (when operated at fuel lean conditions) and freedom from harmful flashback effects, combustion instabilities, and thermal meltdown problems that are normally associated with premixed combustion systems operating at high pressures.

Posted in: Briefs, Aerospace, Aviation, Energy, Low emission vehicles (LEV) and Zero emission vehicles (ZEV), Hydrogen fuel, Gases, Combustion and combustion processes


Selenium Interlayer for High-Efficiency Multi-Junction Solar Cell

This technology can be commercialized for terrestrial applications such as power plants and smart grid systems.Innovators at NASA’s Glenn Research Center have developed a low-cost, high-efficiency solar cell that uses a thin layer of selenium as the bonding material between wafers. Selenium is a semiconductor, and it is also transparent to light at photon energies below the band gap. The innovation allows a multi-junction solar cell to be developed without the constraint of lattice matching, and uses a low-cost, robust silicon wafer as the supporting bottom substrate and bottom cell. This enables a cell that is simultaneously lower in cost, more rugged, and more efficient than existing space solar cell designs. This technology has the potential to be used in next-generation solar cells in space, and it can be commercialized for terrestrial applications such as power plants and smart grid systems.

Posted in: Briefs, Energy, Solar Power, Solar energy, Joining, Semiconductors, Silicon alloys, Durability, Reliability


Tethered Vehicle Control and Tracking System

The system enables effective operation of airborne wind energy (AWE) generation systems.NASA’s Langley Research Center has developed hardware and software to track the flight of tethered vehicles, including kite-like, airborne wind energy (AWE) generation systems. The control system consists of a pan-tilt platform and a visible-spectrum digital camera, combined with tracking control software running on a standard PC. The system controls the flight of the vehicle to keep its position on a power-producing trajectory, maximizing velocity (but within limits). This trajectory produces tension, which turns the ground-based generator, producing the energy. The NASA system enables effective operation of groundgen or flygen types of AWE systems. NASA has a working prototype and pre-beta software, and is seeking development partners to make it more robust and user-friendly by testing it in real-world systems.

Posted in: Briefs, Aerospace, Aviation, Energy, Trajectory control, Computer software and hardware, Imaging and visualization, Autonomous vehicles


Preventing Cell-to-Cell Thermal Runaway in Lithium-Ion Battery Modules

Lithium-ion (Li-ion) cells are increasingly used in high-voltage and high-capacity modules. The Li-ion chemistry has the highest energy density of all rechargeable battery chemistries, but associated with that energy is the issue of catastrophic thermal runaway with a fire. With recent incidents in the commercial aerospace and electronics sectors, it was necessary to find methods to prevent cell-to-cell thermal runaway propagation.

Posted in: Briefs, Batteries, Energy, Scale models, Battery cell chemistry, Lithium-ion batteries, Fire prevention


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