Tech Briefs

Periodically Discharging, Gas-Coalescing Filter

In effect, small bubbles would be made to coalesce into very large ones. A proposed device would remove bubbles of gas from a stream of liquid (typically water), accumulate the gas, and periodically release the gas, in bulk, back into the stream. The device is intended for use in a flow system (1) in which there is a requirement to supply bubble-free water to a downstream subsystem and (2) that includes a sensor and valves, just upstream of the subsystem, for sensing bubbles and diverting the flow from the subsystem until the water stream is again free of bubbles. By coalescing the gas bubbles and then periodically releasing the accumulated gas, the proposed device would not contribute to net removal of gas from the liquid stream; nevertheless, it would afford an advantage by reducing the frequency with which the diverter valves would have to be activated.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components, Mechanics

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Biomimetic/Optical Sensors for Detecting Bacterial Species

Bacteria in liquid samples could be detected in real time. Biomimetic/optical sensors have been proposed as means of real-time detection of bacteria in liquid samples through real-time detection of compounds secreted by the bacteria. Bacterial species of interest would be identified through detection of signaling compounds unique to those species. The best-characterized examples of quorum- signaling compounds are acylhomoserine lactones and peptides. Each compound, secreted by each bacterium of an affected species, serves as a signal to other bacteria of the same species to engage in a collective behavior when the population density of that species reaches a threshold level analogous to a quorum.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Bio-Medical, Medical

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Analysis of Membrane Lipids of Airborne Micro-Organisms

A method of characterization of airborne micro-organisms in a given location involves (1) large-volume filtration of air onto glass-fiber filters; (2) accelerated extraction of membrane lipids of the collected micro-organisms by use of pressurized hot liquid; and (3) identification and quantitation of the lipids by use of gas chromatography and mass spectrometry.This method is suitable for use in both outdoor and indoor environments; for example, it can be used to measure airborne microbial contamination in buildings (“sick-building syndrome”). The classical approach to analysis of airborne micro-organisms is based on the growth of cultureable micro-organisms and does not provide an account of viable but noncultureable micro-organisms, which typically amount to more than 90 percent of the micro-organisms present. In contrast, the present method provides an account of all micro-organisms, including cultureable, noncultureable, aerobic, and anaerobic ones. The analysis of lipids according to this method makes it possible to estimate the number of viable airborne micro-organisms present in the sampled air and to obtain a quantitative profile of the general types of micro-organisms present along with some information about their physiological statuses.

Posted in: Briefs, Bio-Medical, Medical

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Noninvasive Diagnosis of Coronary Artery Disease Using 12-Lead High-Frequency Electrocardiograms

Diagnostically significant signal features can be identified automatically by computational analysis. A noninvasive, sensitive method of diagnosing certain pathological conditions of the human heart involves computational processing of digitized electrocardiographic (ECG) signals acquired from a patient at all 12 conventional ECG electrode positions. In the processing, attention is focused on low-amplitude, high-frequency components of those portions of the ECG signals known in the art as QRS complexes. The unique contribution of this method lies in the utilization of signal features and combinations of signal features from various combinations of electrode positions, not reported previously, that have been found to be helpful in diagnosing coronary artery disease and such related pathological conditions as myocardial ischemia, myocardial infarction, and congestive heart failure.

Posted in: Briefs, Bio-Medical, Medical

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System Would Detect Foreign-Object Damage in Turbofan Engine

Vibration-sensor and gas-path-analysis data would be fused. A proposed data-fusion system, to be implemented mostly in software, would further process the digitized and preprocessed outputs of sensors in a turbofan engine to detect foreign-object damage (FOD) [more precisely, damage caused by impingement of such foreign objects as birds, pieces of ice, and runway debris]. The proposed system could help a flight crew to decide what, if any, response is necessary to complete a flight safely, and could aid mechanics in deciding what post-flight maintenance action might be needed.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Mechanical Components, Mechanics

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Recovering Residual Xenon Propellant for an Ion Propulsion System

Most of the otherwise unusable xenon is recovered. Future nuclear-powered Ion-Propulsion- System-propelled spacecraft such as Jupiter Icy Moon Orbiter (JIMO) will carry more than 10,000 kg of xenon propellant. Typically, a small percentage of this propellant cannot be used towards the end of the mission because of the pressure drop requirements for maintaining flow. For large missions such as JIMO, this could easily translate to over 250 kg of unusable xenon.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Mechanical Components, Mechanics

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Manufacturing Precise, Lightweight Paraboloidal Mirrors

Success depends on the proper selection of materials and process conditions. A process for fabricating a precise, diffraction- limited, ultralightweight, composite-material (matrix/fiber) paraboloidal telescope mirror has been devised. Unlike the traditional process of fabrication of heavier glass-based mirrors, this process involves a minimum of manual steps and subjective judgment. Instead, this process involves objectively controllable, repeatable steps; hence, this process is better suited for mass production.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Manufacturing & Prototyping

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