Materials & Coatings

Improved Aerogel Vacuum Thermal Insulation

Multilayer structures offer reduced effective thermal conductivity.

An improved design concept for aerogel vacuum thermal-insulation panels calls for multiple layers of aerogel sandwiched between layers of aluminized Mylar (or equivalent) poly(ethylene terephthalate), as depicted in the figure. This concept is applicable to both the rigid (brick) form and the flexible (blanket) form of aerogel vacuum thermal-insulation panels.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Materials, Performance upgrades, Fabrication, Insulation
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Using Volcanic Ash To Remove Dissolved Uranium and Lead

Experiments have shown that significant fractions of uranium, lead, and possibly other toxic and/or radioactive substances can be removed from an aqueous solution by simply exposing the solution, at ambient temperature, to a treatment medium that includes weathered volcanic ash from Pu’u Nene, which is a cinder cone on the Island of Hawaii. Heretofore, this specific volcanic ash has been used for an entirely different purpose: simulating the spectral properties of Martian soil.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Environmental technologies, Soils, Waste management, Hazardous materials
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Cyclic Oxidation Behavior of CuCrAl Cold-Sprayed Coatings for Reusable Launch Vehicles

The next generation of reusable launch vehicles is likely to use GRCop-84 [Cu-8(at.%)Cr-4%Nb] copper alloy combustion liners. The application of protective coatings on GRCop-84 liners can minimize or eliminate many of the environmental problems experienced by uncoated liners and significantly extend their operational lives and lower operational cost. A newly developed Cu-23 (wt.%) Cr-5% Al (CuCrAl) coating, shown to resist hydrogen attack and oxidation in an as-cast form, is currently being considered as a protective coating for GRCop-84. The coating was deposited on GRCop-84 substrates by the cold spray deposition technique, where the CuCrAl was procured as gas-atomized powders. Cyclic oxidation tests were conducted between 773 and 1,073 K to characterize the coated substrates.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Materials, Aluminum alloys, Chromium alloys, Coatings Colorants and Finishes, Coatings, colorants, and finishes, Copper alloys, Materials properties, Launch vehicles
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Ceramic Fiber Structures for Cryogenic Load-Bearing Applications

Woven or braided fibers resist embrittlement under cryogenic conditions, enabling ultralow-temperature applications.

This invention is intended for use as a load-bearing device under cryogenic temperatures and/or abrasive conditions (i.e., during missions to the Moon). The innovation consists of small-diameter, ceramic fibers that are woven or braided into devices like ropes, belts, tracks, or cables. The fibers can be formed from a variety of ceramic materials like silicon carbide, carbon, aluminosilicate, or aluminum oxide. The fiber architecture of the weave or braid is determined by both the fiber properties and the mechanical requirements of the application. A variety of weave or braid architectures is possible for this application. Thickness of load-bearing devices can be achieved by using either a 3D woven structure, or a layered, 2D structure. For the prototype device, a belt approximately 0.10 in. (0.25 cm) thick, and 3.0 in. (7.6 cm) wide was formed by layering and stitching a 2D aluminosilicate fiber weave. The circumferential length of the 2D, layered belt was approximately 36 in. (91 cm).

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Materials, Ceramics, Fibers, Materials properties, Spacecraft
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Elastomer Reinforced With Carbon Nanotubes

Elastomers are reinforced with functionalized, single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) giving them high- breaking strain levels and low densities. Cross-linked elastomers are prepared using amine-terminated, poly(dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS), with an average molecular weight of 5,000 daltons, and a functionalized SWNT.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials
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Improving Heat Flux Performance of Flat Surface in Spray-Cooling Systems

A method has been developed for improving heat flux performance relative to flat surfaces in spray-cooling systems. Similar enhancement techniques have been used for convective heat transfer, but, to the best knowledge at the time of this reporting, never spray cooling of foam. Previous studies have shown that spray-cooling heat flux enhancements may be attained using enhanced surfaces. However, most enhanced surface spray-cooling studies have been limited to extended and/or embedded surface structures. This study investigates the effect of foam on spraycooling heat flux.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Thermal management, Thermal management, Cooling, Foams
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Treating Fibrous Insulation To Reduce Thermal Conductivity

A chemical treatment reduces the convective and radiative contributions to the effective thermal conductivity of porous fibrous thermal-insulation tile. The net effect of the treatment is to coat the surfaces of fibers with a mixture of transition-metal oxides (TMOs) without filling the pores. The TMO coats reduce the cross-sectional areas available for convection while absorbing and scattering thermal radiation in the pores, thereby rendering the tile largely opaque to thermal radiation.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Materials
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Silica-Aerogel Composites Opacified With La0.7Sr0.3MnO3

Sizes of La0.7Sr0.3MnO3 particles affect their effectiveness as opacifiers.

As part of an effort to develop improved lightweight thermal-insulation tiles to withstand temperatures up to 1,000 °C, silica aerogel/fused-quartz- fiber composite materials containing La0.7Sr0.3MnO3 particles as opacifiers have been investigated as potentially offering thermal conductivities lower than those of the otherwise equivalent silica-aerogel composite materials not containing La0.7Sr0.3MnO3 particles. The basic idea of incorporating opacifying particles into silica-aerogels composite to reduce infrared radiative contributions to thermal conductivities at high temperatures is not new: it has been reported in a number of previous NASA Tech Briefs articles. What is new here is the selection of La0.7Sr0.3MnO3 particles as candidate opacifiers that, in comparison with some prior opacifiers (carbon black and metal nanoparticles), are more thermally stable.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Composite materials, Insulation, Materials properties, Silicon alloys
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Biologically Inspired Purification and Dispersion of SWCNTs

A biologically inspired method has been developed for (1) separating single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) from other materials (principally, amorphous carbon and metal catalysts) in raw production batches and (2) dispersing the SWCNTs as individual particles (in contradistinction to ropes and bundles) in suspension, as required for a number of applications. Prior methods of purification and dispersal of SWCNTs involve, variously, harsh physical processes (e.g., sonication) or harsh chemical processes (e.g., acid reflux). These processes do not completely remove the undesired materials and do not disperse bundles and ropes into individual suspended SWCNTs. Moreover, these processes cut long SWCNTs into shorter pieces, yielding typical nanotube lengths between 150 and 250 nm.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Materials
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Quantifying Airborne Hydrogen in Nearly Real Time

An indirect method of measuring small concentrations of hydrogen gas in air in nearly real time has been devised to circumvent the difficulty of performing such measurements directly. In this method, a sample of air suspected of containing hydrogen is first enclosed in a suitable container, and its humidity is measured. The enclosed sample is then exposed to ultraviolet light (typically at a wavelength of 254 nm), which photolyzes the hydrogen to water vapor. The exposure time needed for photolysis is of the order of minutes, the exact value depending on the shape and size of the sample container.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Materials
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