Tech Briefs

Plasma-Assisted Thin Film Coatings to Create Highly Hydrophobic Porous Structures

Multiple samples can be coated in this manner. John H. Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio Gas-distribution layers (GDLs) are water-management structures used in fuel cells and electrolyzers. GDLs are critical components that prevent flooding of the fuel cell electrode by product water, thus preserving open channels for reactant gas to reach the electrode. Typically, GDLs are electrically conductive papers (metal or carbon) having a fine pore structure. Extremely fine pores in some GDL materials are difficult to fully infiltrate with Teflon (PTFE). These materials are typically wet-proofed by coating with hydrophobic materials (e.g. PTFE). This is usually accomplished by immersing the raw paper in a PTFE emulsion. Completeness of wet-proofing by immersion in emulsion can be limited, because fine pores will filter out the PTFE particles.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Coatings & Adhesives

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High-Performance Photocatalytic Oxidation Reactor System

Airborne volatile organic chemicals are oxidized using blue LEDs, fiber optics, and visible light-activated catalysts for space and terrestrial air purification. Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama As crewed space missions extend beyond low Earth orbit, the need to reliably recover potable water is critical. Aboard the International Space Station (ISS), the water is recycled from cabin humidity condensate, urine distillate, and hygiene wash wastes. In spacecraft cabin air environments, off-gassing from equipment, human metabolism, and human personal care products contributes to significant airborne concentrations of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These polar and water-soluble compounds ultimately dissolve into the humidity condensate and stress the process load, logistics costs, and lifecycle requirements of the water processing systems. The aim of this effort was to develop the High Performance Photocatalytic Oxidation Reactor System (HPPORS) technology for the destruction of airborne VOCs prior to reaching the water processing systems. This innovation will reduce the logistics costs and lifecycle requirements of water processing systems, and help extend NASA missions to include long-duration space habitation and lunar and Mars colonization missions.

Posted in: Briefs, Recycling Technologies, Remediation Technologies, LEDs, Fiber Optics, Photonics

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ACS Anchor Guide Stud and Caddy

Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland An alignment guide and a mounting interface for two of the repair tools on orbit during the Hubble Space Telescope Servicing Mission 4 (see http://asd.gsfc.nasa.gov/archive/hubble/missions/sm4.html) were developed. This design can be installed in a timely manner, and was specifically developed for a worksite with minimal access and minimal visual line-of-sight to the worksite. In addition, this technology was specifically designed for on-orbit work by astronauts, and can be used for any space-related work where an alignment aid or mounting interface is required.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Fastening, Joining & Assembly

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Next-Generation, Lightweight Hard Upper Torso/Hatch Assembly

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas The current MK-III carbon-graphite/epoxy Hard Upper Torso (HUT)/hatch assembly represented an 8.3 psi (≈57 kPa) technology demonstrator model of a zero pre-breathe suit. In this configuration, the MK-III suit weighed about 120 lb (≈54 kg). Since future lunar/planetary suits will need to operate under the influence of gravity, as well as operate at 4.3 psi (≈30 kPa), the weight of the suit had to be reduced to a minimum of 79 lb (≈36 kg) with the incorporation of lightweight structural materials and slight HUT/hatch assembly geometric redesign.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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Elastic Deployable Composite Tubular Roll-Out Boom

Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland The objective of this work was to develop an innovative deployable boom/structure technology that is ultra-lightweight (<30-grams/meter potential), and has extremely compact stowage volume (>100:1 compaction ratio), broad scalability (no size limits envisioned), high deployed frequency, high deployed strength, good thermal/dimensional stability, reliable/immediate and repeatable controlled deployment, high stiffness maintained during the entire deployment sequence, affordability (simple, easily produced tubular structure, very low parts count, and proven tube manufacture provides low cost and rapid assembly), space environmental survivability, and broad mission applicability.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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Reduced-Speed Duplex-Ring Seal

This configuration seals fluid flow and pressure at a significant increase in machine shaft speed. John H. Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio Ring seals are used in rotating union applications where a fluid flow or hydraulic pressure signal is transferred from a static reference frame to a rotating component, such as a shaft, for the purpose of providing lubrication and/or a hydraulic signal to a component(s) in a rotating frame of reference. Ring seals are used in physically compact configurations.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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Performing Launch Depressurization Test on Large Test Articles Using Two Vacuum Chambers in Tandem

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California Two vacuum chambers were used in tandem to perform a launch depressurization test. The test article was mounted in a 10-ft (≈3 m) Vertical Vacuum Chamber (Chamber 248-10). The 25-ft (≈7.6-m) Space Simulator (Chamber 150-25) was rough-pumped and used for ullage.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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