Materials

High-Efficiency Tantalum-Based Ceramic Composite Structures

Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California High-efficiency tantalum-based ceramic (HETC) composite structures are suitable for use in thermal protection systems. These composite structures have high-efficiency surfaces (low catalytic efficiency and high-emittance), thereby reducing heat flux to a spacecraft during planetary reentry. These low catalytic efficiency and high-emittance ceramic materials were developed in order to increase the capability of a Toughened Uni-Piece Fibrous Insulation (TUFI)-like thermal protection system, with its high-impact resistance, to temperatures above 3,000 °F (≈1,650 °C). These ceramics have been applied to various aerodynamic configurations, such as wedge, wing-leading segment, and conventional tile shapes used on high-speed atmospheric entry vehicles. In addition, this family of tantalum-based ceramics exhibits low catalytic efficiency to atom recombination during exposure to highenergy dissociated hypersonic flow.

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Use of Solvent-Free Conditions/Dry Mixing for Functionalizing Carbon Nanotubes

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas Two methods have been developed for functionalizing carbon nanotubes in solvent-free conditions. In one method, purified single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) and a diazonium salt are added to a metal vial, which is loaded with a stainless steel ball bearing. The metal vial is clamped into a mill mixer, and is mixed for one hour. The unreacted diazonium salt is then dissolved in a volume of acetonitrile that efficiently solubilizes the salt to remove the unreacted functionalization reagent. The functionalized nanotubes are then collected by filtration.

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Synthesis of Novel Copoly(alkyl ether imide)s With Unique Surface Properties

These materials have potential applications in marine biofouling, biomedical devices, microfluidics, corrosion and stain resistance, ice and water adhesion, and drag reduction. Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia Copoly(alkyl ether imide)s were synthesized for the purposes of tailoring surface chemistry. Alkyl ether oligomers with amine end groups were synthesized from the hydroxyl-terminated species, and subsequently reacted with aromatic dianhydrides and diamines to make the copolymers. Films were solution-cast from the copolymers and exhibited reduced surface energy and increased surface fluorine content at extremely low loadings relative to the imide matrix. These copolymers are currently being evaluated for mitigation of particle adhesion and fouling from exposure to various particle and biological contaminants. Additionally, the surface migration of the oxetane segments can be used as a shuttle to bring other designed chemical constituents to the surface.

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Inkjet-Assisted Creation of Self-Healing Layers Between Composite Plies

Inkjet printing provides the ability to rapidly transfer this technology into a prepreg manufacturing process. University of Sheffield, United Kingdom A self-healing advanced composite system was designed and optimized using minimum self-healing (SH) agent (~0.02%) deposited in microscopically ordered arrays through inkjet printing, to arrest cracks along interfaces between plies (see figure). The approach consisted of depositing thermoplastic, low-viscosity microdroplets with chemically and mechanically comparable properties to epoxy matrix in aerospace-grade composites onto fiber-reinforced epoxy prepregs before curing. The SH agents remained arrested and encapsulated between epoxy plies without direct contact with neighboring microdroplets. This ensured consistent integrity of the composite while preserving the SH capability.

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Multi-Species Turbulent Mixing Under Supercritical-Pressure Conditions

This mixing model under high-pressure conditions would be useful for automotive, gas turbine engine, and liquid rocket engine companies. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California A model describing supercritical-pressure, multi-species turbulent mixing has been developed to simulate situations prevailing in diesel, gas turbine, and HCCI (homogeneous charge compression ignition) engines. It is also a situation occurring in atmospheric planetary science, such as the Venus atmosphere. Previously, there had been no model to describe this high-pressure mixing under turbulent conditions.

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A Model of Reduced Oxidation Kinetics Using Constituents and Species

The advantage of such a simple model becomes increasingly significant with increasing carbon atoms of the fuel. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California Elementary-reaction chemical kinetics of hydrocarbon oxidation consists of hundreds to thousands of species and thousands of reactions. As such, it is impossible to use it in models and codes involving turbulence because computations are unfeasible due to lack of memory and computer speed. The solution is to reduce the elementary chemical kinetics to a much smaller set of representative reactions. A kinetic reduction has been shown to work very well for isooctane and its mixtures with n-pentane, iso-hexane, and n-heptane.

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Determining Radiation Shielding Capability of the Earth’s Atmosphere from FAA Radiation Data

An algorithm is used to determine how much material is needed to shield astronauts on their trip to Mars. John F. Kennedy Space Center, Florida The FAA, using its CARI-6 program, provides galactic cosmic radiation dosage rates for any location on the Earth from ground up to 60,000 ft (≈18,300 m). One way to protect astronauts from galactic cosmic radiation (GCR) on a Mars mission is to use material shielding. However, current radiation shielding code does not model shields thicker than about 100 to 200 gm/cm2, and it has been shown that this shield thickness is insufficient to provide protection for a trip to Mars. There is effort underway to extend the code to thicker shields, but there is a lack of experimental data to use to verify the code. The atmosphere represents a very thick and effective radiation shield, and that atmospheric radiation data might be used as a source of verification data.

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