Materials

Self-Cleaning Particulate Prefilter Media

This technology has application for air filter manufacturers for self-cleaning particulate prefilters. A long-term space mission requires efficient air revitalization performance to sustain the crew. Prefilter and particulate air filter media are susceptible to rapid fouling that adversely affects their performance and can lead to catastrophic failure of the air revitalization system, which may result in mission failure. For a long-term voyage, it is impractical to carry replacement particulate prefilter and filter modules due to the usual limitations in size, volume, and weight. The only solution to this problem is to reagentlessly regenerate prefilter and filter media in place. A method was developed to modify the particulate prefilter media to allow them to regenerate reagentlessly, and in place, by the application of modest thermocycled transverse or reversed airflows. The innovation may allow NASA to close the breathing air loop more efficiently, thereby sustaining the vision for manned space exploration missions of the future.

Posted in: Materials, Briefs

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Polyurea-Based Aerogel Monoliths and Composites

These aerogels can be used in portable apparatus for warming, storing, and/or transporting food and medicine, and can be recycled for fillers for conventional plastics. A flexible, organic polyurea-based aerogel insulation material was developed that will provide superior thermal insulation and inherent radiation protection for government and commercial applications. The rubbery polyurea-based aerogel exhibits little dustiness, good flexibility and toughness, and durability typical of the parent polyurea polymer, yet with the low density and superior insulation properties associated with aerogels. The thermal conductivity values of polyurea-based aerogels at lower temperature under vacuum pressures are very low and better than that of silica aerogels.

Posted in: Materials, Briefs, TSP

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Imidazolium-Based Polymeric Materials as Alkaline Anion-Exchange Fuel Cell Membranes

Polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells can be used for portable power sources. Polymer electrolyte membranes that conduct hydroxide ions have potential use in fuel cells. A variety of polystyrenebased quaternary ammonium hydroxides have been reported as anion exchange fuel cell membranes. However, the hydrolytic stability and conductivity of the commercially available membranes are not adequate to meet the requirements of fuel cell applications. When compared with commercially available membranes, polystyrene-imidazolium alkaline membrane electrolytes are more stable and more highly conducting. At the time of this reporting, this has been the first such usage for imidazolium-based polymeric materials for fuel cells.

Posted in: Materials, Briefs, TSP

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Blocking Filters With Enhanced Throughput for X-Ray Microcalorimetry

Polyimide replaces the standard metal mesh. New and improved blocking filters (see figure) have been developed for microcalorimeters on several mission payloads, made of high-transmission polyimide support mesh, that can replace the nickel mesh used in previous blocking filter flight designs. To realize the resolution and signal sensitivity of today’s x-ray microcalorimeters, significant improvements in the blocking filter stack are needed.

Posted in: Materials, Briefs, TSP

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High-Thermal-Conductivity Fabrics

Applications include cooling garments for firefighters, hazmat personnel, soldiers, and in cooling vests for multiple sclerosis patients. Heat management with common textiles such as nylon and spandex is hindered by the poor thermal conductivity from the skin surface to cooling surfaces. This innovation showed marked improvement in thermal conductivity of the individual fibers and tubing, as well as components assembled from them.

Posted in: Materials, Briefs, TSP

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Electrospun Nanofiber Coating of Fiber Materials: A Composite Toughening Approach

Companies could apply this technology in producing fabric products for use in composite manufacturing. Textile-based composites could significantly benefit from local toughening using nanofiber coatings. Nanofibers, thermoplastic or otherwise, can be applied to the surface of the fiber tow bundle, achieving toughening of the fiber tow contact surfaces, resulting in tougher and more damage-resistant/tolerant composite structures. The same technique could also be applied to other technologies such as tape laying, fiber placement, or filament winding operations. Other modifications to the composite properties such as thermal and electrical conductivity could be made through selection of appropriate nanofiber material.

Posted in: Materials, Briefs, TSP

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Solar Nanowire Template Permits Flexible Energy Absorption

Researchers creating electricity through photovoltaics want to convert as many of the sun’s wavelengths as possible to achieve maximum efficiency. For this reason, they see indium gallium nitride as a valuable future material for photovoltaic systems. Changing the concentration of indium allows researchers to tune the material’s response so it collects solar energy from a variety of wavelengths.

Posted in: Materials, Solar Power, Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy, Nanotechnology, News

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