NASA Tech Needs

Low-Water Cleaning

The manufacturing of consumer products, foods, and pharmaceuticals requires the implementation of stringent cleaning requirements of all batch, semi-continuous, and continuous processes equipment. High standards of hygienic quality must be maintained, and the cleaning process must ensure that there is no cross-contamination of products. A client needs to reduce the amount of water required to clean stainless steel-based manufacturing plant equipment, such as vessels, mixers, and pipework. New chemical and/or process technologies must clean products of wide-ranging viscosities. Potential solution areas include self-cleaning surfaces, surface- modification technologies, and air-based cleaning.

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Viscosity Thickeners for Adhesive Polymer

A client uses sodium and potassium stearates to build body and viscosity in a polymer dispersion intended as an adhesive. The stearates adversely affect shear strength after the dispersion cures. Non-stearate thickeners, or different stearates, are needed. By varying the nature of the fillers and thickeners, and possibly by varying their loading, post-cure compression shear strength of 2000-2500 pounds must be achieved. Lesser strengths may also be of interest. The viscosity thickeners must bond wood and similar porous substrates, as well as nonporous surfaces. The adhesive must be applied smoothly, as though poured.

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New Sensations for Saline Nasal Sprays

New sensations for saline sprays and washes must moisturize dry nasal passages and relieve a stuffy nose. Additives such as eucalyptus or sesame oil, for example, produce coolness or warmth. The desired effects must calm, soften, and relieve symptoms. An antibacterial effect and a physical rinse are of interest. Potential ingredients may include menthol, eucalyptus, lavender, heather, aloe vera, Echinacea, elderberry, and apple cider vinegar. A proposed solution, which must be drug-free, efficacious, and safe, may also feature a differentiated delivery device.

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Dissolution Device

To enhance transportability and shelf life, many drugs and pharmaceuticals are distributed as freeze-dried formulations. The formulations must be dissolved before they can be injected. A client therefore seeks a new device or container that helps lyophilized preparations dissolve rapidly and completely with diluents such as water. It is possible to improve dissolution by longer or faster stirring, or by heating, but the proposed solution must not apply heat or create bubbles. The formulation, intended for injection, needs to work with a variety of powdered drug types, thus showing versatility.

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Grab-Bars and Safety Grips

Because of their weight and the weight they bear, most grab-bars must be installed permanently in a home, usually by drilling through the wall material and into a wall stud. In the case of grab-bars installed in a tub enclosure or shower, a permanent hole may need to be drilled through ceramic tile, thus making a change to the material that is difficult to patch if the bar is removed later. A company desires a grab-bar solution that can attach to any surface, including tile or drywall, and later be removed without marring the underlying surface. The grab-bar must support up to 250 pounds and include a consumable or renewable feature.

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Adhesion Prevention for Sheet Goods

A company produces and stacks sheet goods that have a naturally viscous and sticky surface material. The sticky material is applied at about 480 °F. During application, the coating has a specific gravity of 1.03 to 1.70, and a viscosity of >5000 cps. A release material needs to be applied to the substrate material during production so that the sheets do not adhere during shipment and storage. Even at 480 °F, the coating cannot decompose, melt, mix, delaminate, or combine with the underlying substrate. The organization is open to any application method, such as roll-to-roll, spray, paint-on, or application via tape.

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Smooth Dispensing of Adhesive

Without producing clumps, a professional adhesive must be poured in a consistent and smooth way. A company seeks a dispenser/ applicator that can handle a thick, gelatinous, preformed, professional-quality adhesive. Currently, a polymer dispersion of polyvinyl pyrrolidone is used. While the stearates thicken the adhesive and provide an even “flow,” they bring the compression/shear strength of the formulation down to 400-600 lbs. A proposed professional-level adhesive must dispense just as well, but offer a compression shear strength of 2000-2500 lbs. The substrates to be joined include such porous substrates as wood and engineered wood products, and various non-porous surfaces such as metal and plastic.

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Delivery of Antiseptic/Antimicrobial Formulation

A company must deliver a measured amount of antiseptic/ antimicrobial formulation to a specific surface area (between 1 to 3 square feet) and be able to verify visually that the area has been adequately covered and treated. Currently, the antimicrobial formulation is a liquid with a viscosity approximately that of water. Methods must maintain the sterility of the unused product until its outer protective packaging is opened. Data must also show the efficacy of the application method, including improved completeness of coverage, depth of penetration, or ease and simplicity of use.

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Reduction of Liquid Temperatures in Metal/Glass Containers

Beverages, when served cold, quickly heat up during consumption. A client seeks material and process technologies that will insulate against heat gain or actively reduce temperature of liquids contained in glass bottles or metal cans. Processes that enable the printing, coating, and spraying of foam-like or phase-change materials are also of interest. Potential solution areas include insulation materials, aerogels, cooling hydrogels, and foaming polymers. The material must not be more than 250 microns thick.

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Preservation of High-Water-Content Fruit

As fresh produce undergoes a number of processes from point of harvest to final products like yogurt, ice cream, pasta sauces, and frozen meals, its natural characteristics are altered. To ensure a fresh taste and texture, a company seeks technology, ingredients, or processes that preserve the natural characteristics of fruit or vegetables throughout processing. Solutions that enable frozen fruit or vegetables to have soft, fresh-like texture, appearance, color, and flavor characteristics are of high interest. Potential options include alternative freezing processes, partial dehydration/drying, water content modifiers, and ingredients or coatings to encapsulate structure.

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