Materials

Separating Ethanol From Water Via Differential Miscibility

Alcohol for combustion could be purified more economically. The differential miscibility of castor oil in ethanol and water would be exploited to separate ethanol from water, according to a proposal. Burning the separated ethanol would produce more energy than would be consumed in the separation process. In contrast, the separation of a small amount of ethanol (actually an ethanol/water solution poor in ethanol) from water by the conventional process of distillation requires more energy than can be produced by burning the resulting distillate. As in the process described in the preceding article, "Separating Ethanol From Water Via Differential Solubility" (LAR-14894), the proposed alcohol/water separation process could be exploited industrially to produce clean fuel from fermented vegetable matter.

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Multilayer Impregnated Fibrous Thermal Insulation Tiles

Temperature rises are limited by transpiration cooling. The term “secondary polymer layered impregnated tile” (“SPLIT”) denotes a type of ablative composite-material thermal- insulation tiles having engineered, spatially non-uniform compositions. The term “secondary” refers to the fact that each tile contains at least two polymer layers wherein endothermic reactions absorb considerable amounts of heat, thereby helping to prevent overheating of an underlying structure. These tiles were invented to afford lighter-weight alternatives to the reusable thermal-insulation materials heretofore variously used or considered for use in protecting the space shuttles and other spacecraft from intense atmospheric- entry heating. Tiles of this type could also be useful on Earth as relatively lightweight components of fire-retardant structures.

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Multifunctional, High-Temperature Nanocomposites

Electrical and thermal conductivities increase with proportions of nanotubes. In experiments conducted as part of a continuing effort to incorporate multifunctionality into advanced composite materials, blends of multi-walled carbon nanotubes and a resin denoted “PETI-330” (wherein “PETI” is an abbreviation for “phenylethynyl- terminated imide”) were prepared, characterized, and fabricated into moldings. PETI-330 was selected as the matrix resin in these experiments because of its low melt viscosity (<10 poise at a temperature of 280 °C), excellent melt stability (lifetime >2 hours at 280 °C), and high temperature performance (>1,000 hours at 288 °C). The multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs), obtained from the University of Kentucky, were selected because of their electrical and thermal conductivity and their small diameters. The purpose of these experiments was to determine the combination of thermal, electrical, and mechanical properties achievable while still maintaining melt processability.

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Increasing Durability of Flame-Sprayed Strain Gauges

Low-oxygen heat treatments and internal platinum oxygen-diffusion barriers extend lifetimes. Thermally sprayed dielectric ceramic coatings are the primary means of attaching strain and temperature gauges to hot-section rotating parts of turbine engines. As hot-section temperatures increase, lifetimes of installed gauges decrease, and seldom exceed one hour above 2,000 °F ( ≈1,100 °C). Advanced engine components are expected to operate at temperatures approaching 2,200 °F ( ≈1,200 °C), and the required high-temperature lifetime is 10 hours minimum.

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Electrodialysis To Remove Ammonium Ions From Wastewater

A simple treatment removes most of the ammonium content. Electrodialysis has been shown to be an effective means for removing ammonium ions from wastewater without use of consumable chemicals and without adding other substances to the treated water. Provided that continuing efforts to develop efficient electrodialysis equipment prove successful, it should be possible to apply this treatment principle to wastewater streams to be recycled in life-support systems for spacecraft and other closed habitats. Effluents from some industrial processes that generate high concentration of ammonium ions may also be treatable by this principle.

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Making Carbon-Nanotube Arrays Using Block Polymers: Part II

A nanoscale phase separation would be utilized to form regularly spaced catalytic dots. Some changes have been incorporated into a proposed method of manufacturing regular arrays of precisely sized, shaped, positioned, and oriented carbon nanotubes. Such arrays could be useful as mechanical resonators for signal filters and oscillators, and as electrophoretic filters for use in biochemical assays.

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Formulations for Stronger Solid Oxide Fuel-Cell Electrolytes

Alumina is added to yttria-stabilized zirconia. Tests have shown that modification of chemical compositions can increase the strengths and fracture tough- nesses of solid oxide fuel-cell (SOFC) electrolytes. Heretofore, these solid electrolytes have been made of yttria- stabilized zirconia, which is highly conductive for oxygen ions at high temp- eratures, as needed for operation of fuel cells. Unfortunately yttria-stabilized zirconia has a high coefficient of thermal expansion, low resistance to thermal shock, low fracture toughness, and low mechanical strength. The lack of strength and toughness are especially problematic for fabrication of thin SOFC electrolyte membranes needed for contemplated aeronautical, automotive, and stationary power-generation applications.

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