NASA Tech Needs

Making Metal Packaging Lighter

Because of increasing cost pressures on high-volume metal packaging, a manufacturer needs to make each unit weight of metal (steel and aluminum) go further. Technologies are sought that make metal packaging lighter and enhance the physical performance (like tensile strength, stiffness, etc). This could include, for example, improvements brought about by “dimpling” the metal surface and other macro surface modifications.

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High-Birefringence Optical Material

A high-birefringence optical material suitable for implementation in optical systems is sought. This material has several qualities of interest beyond high birefringence: high hardness, making it amenable to standard polishing and manufacturing processes; low CTE (coefficient of thermal expansion); low CTRI (coefficient of thermal refractive index); low absorption at 1.55 micrometers; and reasonable bulk density. A material is sought that can be processed and handled using standard techniques.

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Freshness Indicator for Consumer Packaging

A technology is sought that indicates that a product packed into a rigid metal container has not been tampered with and/or degraded over time. The solution must incorporate a method of communicating this information to the packager, retailer, or consumer. After packaging, and depending on the product, the container may be subjected to a thermal treatment, to a maximum of 130°C for an hour for some canned foods, or a 90°C pasteurization treatment for some beverages.

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Orthobiologics to Treat Spine-Related Diseases

This organization seeks new orthobiologic technologies that stimulate bone growth, provide a growth scaffolding, and promote bone healing through osteoinduction (bone formation is actively induced) and osteoconduction (where a scaffold facilitates bone repair passively) in spinal fusion repairs. They are also seeking FDA-approved elastic materials with strength and stiffness close to cortical bone.

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Maintain Food Crispiness from Freezer Storage to Microwave Preparation

Methods are sought to replicate the texture of crunchy food in a convenience food stored in a freezer and prepared in a microwave oven. All ingredient-based solutions must be GRAS (generally recognized as safe) for human consumption. Cost must be within 1 to 2 cents per pound for the final product, and cooking time, once out of the box, must be complete in 4 to 6 minutes. Storage time for the packaged food should be 18 months in a home freezer.

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Delivery System for Controlled Release of Actives

A technology is sought that will enable delivery of active cleaning compositions triggered at a specific time/place by a large range of conditions. The solution must be environmentally safe, must function at a pH range between seven and 11 and temperatures between 5 and 80°C, be compatible for use with chemicals in liquid or solid form, and be suitable for use in a mass-market consumer product. It must not inhibit homogenous mixing of the active material into solutions or onto substrates after dispensing.

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Remote Cloud-Height and Visibility Sensing

A small, low-power automatic sensor technology is needed to determine the cloud coverage, cloud ceiling height between 3,000 to 20,000 feet, and visibility up to at least five miles. These measurements must be provided in day and night conditions. The devices need to be small for easy placement at remote sites (not necessarily near cities or airports) and must operate autonomously.

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