NASA Tech Needs

Structural Detection of Welded Steel Regions

A non-destructive test mechanism is needed to detect fracture toughness, hardness, and microstructure properties of 1/8" steel weld zones. The device must measure the characteristics of flash upset welding of steel. In addition, the standalone technology should not function in a continuous, in-line manufacturing process. The detection system must also identify properties of a welded region, compare these results to both good and bad profiles, and alarm the operator of a specific failure type.

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Technologies for Large-Scale Numerical Simulation

NASA Ames Research Center is home to the world’s seventh most powerful supercomputer, Pleiades. Named after the star cluster, it represents NASA’s state-of-the-art technology for meeting the agency’s supercomputing requirements, enabling NASA scientist s and engineers to conduct modeling and simulation for NASA missions. As one of the most powerful general-purpose supercomputers ever built, Pleiades has the computing power equivalent to that of 41,000 MacBook Pros.

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Stainless Steel Surface Treatment

A treatment for stainless steel must impart high-release properties on par with non-stick coatings. The method should modify the surface of the stainless steel, but not reduce any of its existing properties, such as abrasion resistance, chemical resistance, or durability. The surface modification must resist sodium hydroxide and bleach (up to 180 °F), alkaline, and acidic staining. The non-stick properties should also offer super-hydrophobic features at a contact angle of 90 degrees or better.

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A More Efficient Turbo Propulsion System

Using higher exhaust exit temperatures, a company needs to improve the efficiency of a turbo propulsion system. Methods should reduce component weight primarily in the core compressor component (or secondarily anywhere in the flow path) through new compressor geometries or aerodynamic improvements. Lower temperatures of components adjacent to the flow path of the exhaust must be maintained. Higher temperatures to the exhaust’s flow path are thus restricted, leading to higher-temperature exhaust and a better maintenance of associated components’ mean-time-between-failures (MTBF).

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Establishing a Network of pFab Innovators

The Fabrication organization at NASA Langley Research Center (LaRC) is in the process of establishing a personal fabrication (pFab) lab for innovators to build quick and economical (plastic) parts and hardware with 3D desktop personal fabricators. The fabricators are low cost and designed to be modifiable and hackable. Recently, several of these economical fabricators were purchased, and upgrades have been made to enhance the performance, including: • Installation of safety cutoff switches to turn off the heater circuit and prevent the cartridge heater from overheating. • Interface board to independently operate the fabricator through an SD card so that a computer is not necessary to build a part. • Installation of an automated heated build platform so that multiple objects can be printed consecutively without a person having to reload the drawing files.

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Non-Smoke, Non-Halogenated Fire Retardants

A company needs non-halogenated polymeric mix additives that provide non-smoke fire retardance for wiring jackets and cables. The additive must have low enough loadings so that product performance and flexibility are maintained. Wires and cables must meet a variety of requirements, some imposed by regulatory or testing authorities, and some imposed by market expectations. The additives must produce consistent fire retardance over time and manufacturing runs. The temperature-resistant solution should also be compatible with high-speed production lines.

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Materials That Build Viscosity Upon Dilution with Water

A new material needs to maintain a low viscosity when concentrated or anhydrous, and then build viscosity when diluted with water. It should have an approximate concentrated viscosity of less than 500 cps, and a diluted viscosity greater than 1,000 cps when diluted to 50% or more with water. The water-soluble or water-dispersible creation must have low environmental impact and low toxicity. Possible solution areas include colloids, water-soluble polymers, and functional polymers. Previous attempts involved salt-concentrated and salt-sensitive polymers.

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In-Space Inspection Sensors Look Through Conductive Material to Target Surface

NASA needs a sensor system to characterize damage from Micro-meteoroid and Orbital Debris (MMOD), corrosion, or to perform configuration verification when there is a conductive surface in between the sensor and the site. The in-space system(s) will need to look from the inside (IVA) out or from the outside (EVA) in for both existing and future to-be-designed vehicles. The ground versions will be very useful for ground inspection purposes in areas of vehicles that are “closed out,” or areas with limited access behind conductive structures. The damage includes, but is not limited to, deformations, penetrations, fractures, cracks, corrosion, and dis-bonds.

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Preserving Core-Shell Particle Coatings During Thermoplastic Mix Processing

A company develops composite materials using core-shell particles: ceramic, metal, or polymer elements coated with a ceramic oxide shield. The particles are mixed into thermoplastic resins, including polyethylene. During the melt processing, the high shear in the mixing damages or removes the particle shell and exposes the core particle surface. Due to the aggressive action of mixing core-shell particles with the polymer, the particles become deformed, and the coating scrapes off or cracks. The coating on core-shell particles needs to be preserved during thermoplastic mix processing; the matrix must remain a thermoplastic resin.

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New Methods to Sterilize Food Products

Traditionally, heat treatments are used to sterilize food products, through either ultra-high-temperature processing or retorting. These treatments negatively affect the color, taste, and nutritional content of the food products, especially for “non-cooked” products such as gazpacho, cheese-based or light-colored sauces, and vegetable-based products. New, non-thermal sterilization methods are needed that will improve the nutritional and sensorial profile of food products. Potential solutions should retain the nutritional values and textural qualities of the ingredients, avoid antioxidants, and provide a shelf-life of 9 to 12 months.

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