Physical Sciences

Integrated Arrays of Ion-Sensitive Electrodes

Electronic "tongues" would "taste" selected ions in water. The figure depicts an example of proposed compact water-quality sensors that would contain integrated arrays of ion-sensitive electrodes (ISEs). These sensors would serve as electronic "tongues": they would be placed in contact with water and used to "taste" selected dissolved ions (that is, they would be used to measure the concentrations of the ions). The selected ions could be any or all of a variety of organic and inorganic cations and anions that could be regarded as contaminants or analytes, depending on the specific application. In addition, some of the ISEs could be made sensitive to some neutral analytes (see table).

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Physical Sciences, Sensors and actuators, Water quality, Test equipment and instrumentation


Model of Fluidized Bed Containing Reacting Solids and Gases

This model can be used to optimize designs and operating conditions. A mathematical model has been developed for describing the thermofluid dynamics of a dense, chemically reacting mixture of solid particles and gases. As used here, "dense" signifies having a large volume fraction of particles, as for example in a bubbling fluidized bed. The model is intended especially for application to fluidized beds that contain mixtures of carrier gases, biomass undergoing pyrolysis, and sand. So far, the design of fluidized beds and other gas/solid industrial processing equipment has been based on empirical correlations derived from laboratory- and pilot-scale units. The present mathematical model is a product of continuing efforts to develop a computational capability for optimizing the designs of fluidized beds and related equipment on the basis of first principles. Such a capability could eliminate the need for expensive, time-consuming predesign testing.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Physical Sciences, Computational fluid dynamics, Mathematical models, Optimization, Thermodynamics, Gases


Using Diffusion Bonding in Making Piezoelectric Actuators

Fabrication is simplified and performance improved. A technique for the fabrication of piezoelectric actuators that generate acceptably large forces and deflections at relatively low applied voltages involves the stacking and diffusion bonding of multiple thin piezoelectric layers coated with film electrodes. The present technique stands in contrast to an older technique in which the layers are bonded chemically, by use of urethane or epoxy agents.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Physical Sciences, Sensors and actuators, Fabrication, Joining, Coatings, colorants, and finishes


Turbulence in Supercritical O₂/H₂ and C₇H₁₆/N₂ Mixing Layers

This report presents a study of numerical simulations of mixing layers developing between opposing flows of paired fluids under supercritical conditions, the purpose of the study being to elucidate chemical-species- specific aspects of turbulence. The simulations were performed for two different fluid pairs — O2/H2 and C7H16/N2 — at similar reduced initial pressures (reduced pressure is defined as pressure ÷ critical pressure). Thermodynamically, O2/H2 behaves more nearly like an ideal mixture and has greater solubility, relative to C7H16/N2, which departs strongly from ideality. Because of a specified smaller initial density stratification, the C7H16/N2 layers exhibited greater levels of growth, global molecular mixing, and turbulence. However, smaller density gradients at the transitional state for the O2/H2 system were interpreted as indicating that locally, this system exhibits enhanced mixing as a consequence of its greater solubility and closer approach to ideality. These thermodynamic features were shown to affect entropy dissipation, which was found to be larger for O2/H2 and concentrated in high-density-gradient-magnitude regions that are distortions of the initial density-stratification boundary. In C7H16/N2, the regions of largest dissipation were found to lie in high-density-gradient-magnitude regions that result from mixing of the two fluids.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Physical Sciences, Computational fluid dynamics, Mathematical models, Thermodynamics


Throttling Cryogen Boiloff To Control Cryostat Temperature

Consumption of liquid cryogen and electrical energy could be reduced. An improved design has been proposed for a cryostat of a type that maintains a desired low temperature mainly through boiloff of a liquid cryogen (e.g., liquid nitrogen) at atmospheric pressure. (A cryostat that maintains a low temperature mainly through boiloff of a cryogen at atmospheric pressure is said to be of the pour/fill Dewar-flask type because its main component is a Dewar flask, the top of which is kept open to the atmosphere so that the liquid cryogen can boil at atmospheric pressure and cryogenic liquid can be added by simply pouring it in.) The major distinguishing feature of the proposed design is control of temperature and cooling rate through control of the flow of cryogen vapor from a heat exchanger. At a cost of a modest increase in complexity, a cryostat according to the proposal would retain most of the compactness of prior, simpler pour/fill Dewar-flask cryostats, but would utilize cryogen more efficiently (intervals between cryogen refills could be longer).

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Physical Sciences, Switches, Containers, Cooling


Thermo-Electron Ballistic Coolers or Heaters

These devices may surpass currently available thermoelectric devices. Electronic heat-transfer devices of a proposed type would exploit some of the quantum-wire-like, pseudo-superconducting properties of single-wall carbon nanotubes or, optionally, room- temperature- superconducting polymers (RTSPs). The devices are denoted thermo-electron ballistic (TEB) coolers or heaters because one of the properties that they exploit is the totally or nearly ballistic (dissipation or scattering free) transport of electrons. This property is observed in RTSPs and carbon nanotubes that are free of material and geometric defects, except under conditions in which oscillatory electron motions become coupled with vibrations of the nanotubes. Another relevant property is the high number density of electrons passing through carbon nanotubes — sufficient to sustain electron current densities as large as 100 MA/cm2. The combination of ballistic motion and large current density should make it possible for TEB devices to operate at low applied potentials while pumping heat at rates several orders of magnitude greater than those of thermoelectric devices. It may also enable them to operate with efficiency close to the Carnot limit. In addition, the proposed TEB devices are expected to operate over a wider temperature range.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Physical Sciences, Heat exchangers, Cooling, Nanotechnology


Proton Collimators for Fusion Reactors

High-energy protons would be channeled into useful beams. Proton collimators have been proposed for incorporation into inertial- electrostatic- confinement (IEC) fusion reactors. Such reactors have been envisioned as thrusters and sources of electric power for spacecraft and as sources of energetic protons in commercial ion-beam applications. An artist's concept for an IEC powered spaceship designed for round trip missions to Mars and Jupiter is shown in the figure.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Physical Sciences, Nuclear energy, Product development, Spacecraft


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