Materials & Coatings

EXOS Software

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas

An improved version of EXOS software allows for the modeling of fabrics, mixtures, and porous materials, and also provides the ability to accept hex mesh geometries. The code employs a novel numerical method, a hybrid particle finite element approach, as well as particles and elements in tandem, each modeling distinct aspects of the physics. Ellipsoidal particles are used to model contact-impact and volumetric thermomechanical response (Euler parameters provide a singularity-free description of particle rotations). Elements are used to model “strength” effects; namely, tensile inter-particle forces and elastic-plastic deviatoric deformation.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Electronics & Computers, Coatings & Adhesives, Materials, Software, Computer simulation, Finite element analysis, Tensile Strength
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Scientists Print in 4D

Scientists at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University and the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences have brought a fourth dimension to their microscale 3D printing technology.

Posted in: News, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Materials
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Beetle-Inspired Patterning Prevents Frost

Taking a page from the beetle's playbook, Virginia Tech biomedical engineers created a way to control condensation and frost growth on airplane parts, condenser coils, and windshields.

Posted in: News, Coatings & Adhesives, Composites, Materials, Metals
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Researchers Test New Mars Spacesuits

To support Mars exploration, new spacesuits must protect astronauts, supply air and water, and be flexible enough to allow for small required tasks like the digging of samples. Engineers from the University of North Dakota are evaluating new spacesuit design at Kennedy Space Center.

Posted in: News, Materials
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Sponge-Like Material Soaks Up Oil Spills

In hopes of limiting the disastrous environmental effects of massive oil spills, scientists from Drexel University and Deakin University, in Australia, have teamed up to manufacture and test a new material. The boron nitride nanosheet absorbs up to 33 times its weight in oils and organic solvents — a trait that supports the quick mitigation of costly accidents.

Posted in: News, Materials
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Single-Layer Material Mimics Photosynthesis

A Florida State University researcher has discovered an artificial material that mimics photosynthesis and potentially creates a sustainable energy source. The new material efficiently captures sunlight; then, the energy can be used to break down water into oxygen (O2) and hydrogen (H2).

Posted in: News, Materials
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Using Paraffin Phase Change Material to Make Optical Communication-Type Payloads Thermally Self-Sufficient for Operation in Orion Crew Module

Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland

The Orion Crew Module has a pressurized cabin of approximately 20 m3 in volume. There are a number of cold plates within the Crew Module for thermal management. An optical communication type of payload consists of electronics boxes and modems that dissipate a significant amount of heat during science operation. Generally, such payloads operate for a short term (e.g., up to one hour). If these heat-dissipating components are flown inside the Crew Module, they require heat rejection to the cold plates in the Crew Module. The waste heat is transported from the cold plate to thermal radiators located outside the Orion spacecraft. This makes such a payload thermally dependent on the Crew Module cold plates.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Materials, Hydrocarbons, Passenger compartments, Thermal management, Spacecraft
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Aerogel-Filled Foam Core Insulation for Cryogenic Propellant Storage

Advanced cryogenic insulation has applications in energy, medicine, food storage and packaging, and electronics.

Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama

Current cryogenic insulation materials suffer from various drawbacks including high cost and weight, lack of structural or load-bearing capability, fabrication complexity, and property anisotropy. A need clearly exists for lightweight thermal insulation that is isotropic and structurally capable with high thermal performance, while also offering reduced fabrication and installation complexity, and lower cost.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Propellants, Thermal management, Storage, Foams, Insulation
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Multifunctional B/C Fiber Composites for Radiation Shielding

Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama

A versatile, novel, multifunctional hybrid structural composite of a high-hydrogen epoxy matrix (UN-10) coupled with boron and carbon fibers (IM-7) has been developed. Prototype laminates of 18×18 in. (≈46×46 cm), with the nominal areal density of 0.35 g/cm2, were fabricated in this effort. The hydrogen atoms in the epoxy will provide shielding strength against high-energy protons, electrons, and heavy ionic species, while the boron fibers that have a high neutron cross-section will help shield against neutrons and reduce the buildup of high-energy photons from secondary reactions. The carbon fibers will provide improved mechanical strength.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Composite materials, Fibers
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Smart MMOD Thermal Blanket

A spacer is added to standard thermal blankets to improve MMOD shielding.

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas

This innovation provides for significantly improved protection from micrometeoroid and orbital debris (MMOD) particles, and reliably determines the location, depth, and extent of MMOD impact damage.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Materials, Fabrics, Fibers, Foams, Protective equipment, Spacecraft
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