Tech Briefs

Numerical Method to Predict the Evaporation Time of a Water Droplet Attached to a Solid Boundary in the Presence of Fluid Flow

One of the objectives of the In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) RESOLVE project was to extract water from lunar regolith by heating and then capturing and quantifying the released water. A potentially large error in measurements would occur if some of the water condensed in the piping between the oven and the water capture bed. Questions arise if condensation were to occur (either because of a low-temperature or high-pressure area): 1) how long would it take for convection and diffusion to evaporate the droplet back into the process stream, 2) how will it affect the ISRU RESOLVE process, 3) can accurate data be obtained, 4) how much longer will the process have to run to capture all the water, and 5) what conditions are the most favorable to quicken the evaporation process?

Posted in: Briefs, Software, Mathematical models, Water reclamation
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Functionalization of Carbon Nanotubes

These multi-functional composite materials have applications in body armor, radiators, chemical sensors, computers, and electronics.

Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have attracted much attention due to their extraordinary mechanical and unique electronic properties. CNTs are being studied for applications in high-strength/low-weight composites and other applications. In order to alter the CNT properties for particular applications, chemical functionalization may be necessary. Development of multifunctional composite materials may require functionalization of a collection of CNTs to allow the tubes to be dispersed more easily in a host matrix.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Fabrication, Chemicals, Composite materials, Nanomaterials
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Carbon Fiber and Fiber Metal Laminate Composites Reinforced with Metallic Glass

This new class of composites has applications in aerospace, automotive, sporting goods, military, and defense.

Carbon fiber (CF) and carbon fiber composites have gained widespread use in recent years due to their unique combination of high strength and stiffness-to-weight ratio. To improve their mechanical properties, CF is sometimes used as a laminate, usually with aluminum, to improve the impact and residual strength properties of the CF. By bonding sheets of CF and aluminum, it was noticed that fatigue crack growth rates could be reduced in the laminates, as compared to monolithic sheets of either material. These composites have been referred to as CF metal laminates (CFMLs), and they are generally comprised of thin sheets of metal alloys (not always Al) and plies of fiber (not always carbon fiber) reinforced with polymeric materials.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Fabrication, Composite materials, Fibers, Glass, Materials properties, Metals
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Development of a Sodium LiDAR for Spaceborne Missions

Laser and electro-optic technologies are under development to remotely measure sodium (Na) by adapting existing LiDAR technology with spaceflight heritage. The developed instrumentation will serve as the core for planning a heliophysics mission targeted to study the composition and dynamics of Earth's mesosphere based on a spaceborne LiDAR that will measure the mesospheric Na layer.

Posted in: Briefs, Photonics, Lidar, Lidar, Sodium, Test equipment and instrumentation
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Space Vehicle Heat Shield Having Edgewise Strips of Ablative Material

Edgewise strips of PICA ablator eliminate gaps in the capsule heat shield.

An alternate heat shield concept for the Orion space vehicle is to use interlocking blocks of Phenolic Impregnated Carbon Ablator (PICA). The blocks are independent from one another and there is a defined gap inches between the blocks. That gap poses serious problems to the vehicle and crew if gases flow between the PICA blocks. This invention is a simple yet robust invention for PICA block gap filler. Strips of preconditioned PICA blocks are positioned edgewise to fill gaps between PICA blocks to provide a gap filler substance that allows thermal expansion, and satisfies mechanical strain between the PICA tiles and substructure.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Thermal management, Thermal management, Product development, Insulation, Spacecraft
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Mechanically Strong, Thermally Stable, and Electrically Conductive Nanocomposite Structure and Method of Fabricating Same

This technology can be used in automobiles, launch vehicles, advanced aerospace vehicles, aircraft, and spacecraft.

NASA's Langley Research Center has developed a method for producing multifunctional, structural, thermally stable nanocomposites with aligned carbon nanotubes. The invention improves upon current state-of-the-art graphite fiber composites by providing the same lightweight and mechanically strong characteristics, but also adds thermal stability and electrical conductivity. Thus, the invention can be used to provide a new class of mechanically strong, thermally stable, and electrically conductive nanocomposites.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Fabrication, Composite materials, Graphite, Materials properties, Nanomaterials
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Micro Acoustic Resonant Chambers for Heating/Agitating/Mixing (MARCHAM)

This device can be used for extracting amino acids in microfluidic or benchtop designs, and could be scaled up to accommodate large samples for mixing and extraction.

To measure organics in a fluid sample, one either has to bring the sample in the form of a colloid to the instrument, or extract the organics from the sample and bring the liquid extract to the instrument. The disclosed technique enables both extraction and transport of the fines or the organics.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components, Measurements, Acoustics, Acoustics, Test equipment and instrumentation
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Generation of Cut- and Split-Cells for Face-Piercing Geometry in Embedded-Boundary Cartesian Methods

This innovation addresses several critical issues in the construction of cut control volumes using embedded-boundary Cartesian mesh generators. The innovation considers the case of a surface triangulation intersecting the face of a Cartesian hex without intersecting any of its edges. Such face-piercing geometry is common in practical applications, especially when surface variations occur on a smaller scale than the Cartesian hex dimensions, i.e. coarse meshes. Examples include geometric perturbances such as nozzles, or even minor surface undulations and dimples. Furthermore, the innovation also considers the case of a surface triangulation containing internal passages within the Cartesian hex. The innovation correctly handles situations where hexes split into multiple control volumes are merged together if internal connections exist within the surface.

Posted in: Briefs, Software, Mathematical models, Fabrication
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Invertible Time Invariant Linear Filtering (InTILF) Method for Pattern Detection and Modeling of Stochastic One- or Two-Dimensional Data

This tool can analyze and model surface metrology data for polishing-tool fabricators.

X-ray astronomy offers the opportunity to observe important phenomena, including the early accretion of massive black holes and detecting diffuse ionized intergalactic gas that is heated to X-ray temperatures (>106). One of the technical challenges facing X-ray astronomy is fabricating optics that are properly shaped and smooth enough to produce quality images. Surface defects on the order of the wavelength of the observed spectrum and up to the size of the optical surface must be polished out of the mirrors without leaving a detectable pattern because the detectable signal is on the order of magnitude of the noise. This leads to a cycle of polishing and metrology that adds time and expense to optics fabrication.

Posted in: Briefs, Photonics, Mirrors, Optics, Optics, Radiation
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High-Speed Particle Image Velocimetry

This technology simultaneously tracks the motion of high numbers of object images under extreme, high-concentration conditions.

Particle flow fields of high particle concentration are found in many commercial applications, including chemical processing, energy conversion, pharmaceutical processing, food processing, and biomedical applications. This technology will allow, for the first time, the measurement of particle motion within high particle concentration fields.

Posted in: Briefs, Software, Computational fluid dynamics, Measurements, Particulate matter (PM)
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