Materials & Coatings

Oxygen-Permeable, Hydrophobic Membranes of Silanized α-Al2O3

These membranes perform better than do organic polymer oxygen-diffusion membranes. Membranes made of silanized alumina have been prepared and tested as prototypes of derivatized ceramic membranes that are both highly permeable to oxygen and hydrophobic. Improved oxygen-permeable, hydrophobic membranes would be attractive for use in several technological disciplines, including supporting high-temperature aqueous-phase oxidation in industrial production of chemicals, oxygenation of aqueous streams for bioreactors, and oxygenation of blood during open-heart surgery and in cases of extreme pulmonary dysfunction. In comparison with organic polymeric oxygen-permeable membranes now commercially available, the derivatized ceramic membranes are more chemically robust, are capable of withstanding higher temperatures, and exhibit higher oxygen-diffusion coefficients.

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Lower-Conductivity Ceramic Materials for Thermal-Barrier Coatings

Thermal conductivities of certain pyrochlore oxides can be reduced by doping. Doped pyrochlore oxides of a type described below are under consideration as alternative materials for high temperature thermal barrier coatings (TBCs). In comparison with partially yttria stabilized zirconia (YSZ), which is the state of the art TBC material now in commercial use, these doped pyrochlore oxides exhibit lower thermal conductivities, which could be exploited to obtain the following advantages:

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Improving Thermomechanical Properties of SiC/SiC Composites

A heat treatment increases thermal conductivity and increases creep resistance. Today, a major thrust toward improving the thermomechanical properties of engine components lies in the development of fiber-reinforced silicon carbide matrix composite materials, including SiC-fiber/SiC-matrix composites. These materials are lighter in weight and capable of withstanding higher temperatures, relative to state-of-the-art metallic alloys and oxide-matrix composites for which maximum use temperatures are in the vicinity of 1,100 °C. In addition, the toughness or damage tolerance of the SiC-matrix composites is significantly greater than that of unreinforced silicon-based monolithic ceramics.

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Patches for Repairing Ceramics and Ceramic Matrix Composites

Patches are simply pressed in place, then heated. Patches consisting mostly of ceramic fabrics impregnated with partially cured polymers and ceramic particles are being developed as means of repairing ceramics and ceramic-matrix composites (CMCs) that must withstand temperatures above the melting points of refractory metal alloys. These patches were conceived for use by space-suited, space-walking astronauts in repairing damaged space-shuttle leading edges: as such, these patches could be applied in the field, in relatively simple procedures, and with minimal requirements for specialized tools. These design characteristics also make the patches useful for repairing ceramics and CMCs in terrestrial settings.

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4-Vinyl-1,3-Dioxolane-2-One as an Additive for Li-Ion Cells

Low-temperature charge/discharge capacity is increased. Electrolyte additive 4-vinyl-1, 3-dioxolane-2-one has been found to be promising for rechargeable lithium-ion electrochemical cells. This and other additives, along with advanced electrolytes comprising solutions of LiPF6 in various mixtures of carbonate solvents, have been investigated in a continuing effort to improve the performances of rechargeable lithium-ion electrochemical cells, especially at low temperatures. In contrast to work by other researchers who have investigated the use of this additive to improve the high-temperature resilience of Li-ion cells, the current work involves the incorporation of 4-vinyl-1,3-dioxolane-2-one into quaternary carbonate electrolyte mixtures, previously optimized for low-temperature applications, resulting in improved low temperature performance.

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Aerogel/Particle Composites for Thermoelectric Devices

Shrinkage is reduced through addition of titania powder. Optimizing solution chemistry and the addition of titania and fumed silica powder reduces shrinkage. These materials would serve to increase thermal efficiency by providing thermal insulation to suppress lateral heat leaks. They would also serve to prolong operational lifetime by suppressing sublimation of certain constituents of thermoelectric materials (e.g., sublimation of Sb from CoSb3) at typical high operating temperatures. [The use of pure silica aerogels as cast-in-place thermal-insulation and sublimation-suppression materials was described in “Aerogels for Thermal Insulation of Thermoelectric Devices” (), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 30, No. 7 (July 2006), page 50.]

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Vaporizable Scaffolds for Fabricating Thermoelectric Modules

Thermoelectric legs would be separated by precise gaps. A process for fabricating thermoelectric modules with vacuum gaps separating the thermoelectric legs has been conceived, and the feasibility of some essential parts of the process has been demonstrated. The vacuum gaps are needed to electrically insulate the legs from each other. The process involves the use of scaffolding in the form of sheets of a polymer to temporarily separate the legs by the desired distance, which is typically about 0.5 mm. During a bonding subprocess that would take place in a partial vacuum at an elevated temperature, the polymer would be vaporized, thereby creating the vacuum gaps. If desired, the gaps could later be filled with an aerogel for thermal insulation and to suppress sublimation of thermoelectric material, as described in “Aerogels for Thermal Insulation of Thermoelectric Devices” (), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 30, No. 7 (July, 2006), page 50.

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