Tech Briefs

Strong and Flexible Carbon Fiber Reinforced Phenolic Composites

Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California A new class of phenolic and carbon-fiber-reinforced phenolic composites has been developed for thermal protection systems. The new materials have the advantage of being lightweight, strong, and tough, yet heat resistant and flexible. They retain excellent mechanical strength at high temperatures. This provides better thermal protection for reentry conditions with high heating rates.

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Hybrid Laminate Composite for Harsh Environments and High-Performance Applications

John F. Kennedy Space Center, Florida A multi-functional composite laminate material has been developed for structural and thermal applications for use in durable cryogenic fuel tanks for transportation vehicles and/or in the construction of habitats. The technology focuses on aerogel and fiber composites integrated into unique layups with thermal and mechanical energy absorption capabilities. The lightweight laminate composite system has multi-functionality for both high- and low-temperature applications. Combining structural and thermal attributes, the innovation is a lightweight aerogel-fiber laminate composite system with good compressive strength, tailorable for impact and acoustic energy absorption, reduced heat transfer, and/or fire barrier properties.

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Surface-Modified Nanoparticles Made From High-Molecular-Weight Carboxylic Acids

Starting materials include aluminum oxy hydroxides pretreated with low molecular-weight carboxylic acids. Nanoparticles Made From High-Molecular-Weight Carboxylic Acids An improved class of alumoxanes and a method of synthesizing them have been invented. Alumoxanes are aluminum oxy hydroxide particles that have been modified with compounds containing carboxylic acid groups. For typical applications in which alumoxanes are required to be compatible with polymers, it is desirable that the modifying compounds be carboxylic acids that have high molecular weights (>500 Daltons) and/or are somewhat hydrophobic (characterized by solubility <5% in boiling water). Heretofore, the hydrophobicity of such compounds has made it difficult or impossible to synthesize alumoxanes in sufficiently high yields in acceptably short reaction times, and the alumoxane products have exhibited nonuniformities, both within and between batches. The present invention overcomes these shortcomings of prior approaches to synthesis of alumoxanes.

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NASA PS400 High-Temperature Solid Lubricant Coating

The material provides low friction and wear over a wide temperature range. John H. Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio NASA has an ongoing need for high-temperature solid lubricant coatings to reduce friction and wear in turbine engines, rocket engines, and other mechanical systems. Such lubricants must be thermally and chemically stable in air, vacuum, and reducing environments like hydrogen. Traditional lubricants like oil, grease, and PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene), and even more exotic solid lubricants like graphite and molybdenum disulphide, lack such capabilities. The key problem is to identify and formulate a material that possesses good mechanical properties, long-term environmental durability, and acceptable friction and wear-reducing characteristics while being practical to apply to bearings, seals, and other mechanical components.

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Triple Orthogonal Disk Polymer Discrete Space for Cryogenic Feedline Insulation

A new material provides a superior, robust insulation for cryogenic feed lines. John H. Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio NASA vehicles using cryogenic propellants and systems need improved cryogenic storage and transfer, including insulation for cryogenic transfer/feed lines. Wrapped multi-layer insulation (WMLI) is an innovative, next-generation, high-performance multilayer insulation designed specifically for cryogenic plumbing systems. WMLI uses Quest Thermal Group’s Discrete Spacer Technology to precisely control layer spacing, layer density, and minimize system heat flux. A customized discrete spacer, the Triple Orthogonal Disk (TOD) spacer, was designed, micromolded, and tested, and provides significantly lower heat leak than current state-of-the-art MLI insulation.

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Compliant Electrode and Composite Materials for Piezoelectric Wind and Mechanical Energy Conversion

Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California Thin film, piezoelectric materials generate a small voltage whenever they are deformed, suggesting that they are suitable for tapping energy from freely available resources, such as the wind. Yet their low-energy production levels and lack of electrode durability have hampered development. NASA researchers have invented a system, method, and device for improving the performance and increasing the lifespan of small-form-factor, thin-film electrode, piezoelectric devices capable of interacting with the wind to provide power to wearable devices and stretchable electronics.

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Development of a Novel, Regenerable Microlith Catalytic Reactor for CO2 Reduction via Bosch Process

Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama Utilization of CO2 to produce life support consumables, such as water and oxygen, offers a potential advance for NASA’s cabin atmosphere revitalization system and in-situ resources utilization concepts for long-term manned space missions. Toward this goal, the innovators at Precision Combustion, Inc. have investigated the use of catalysts supported on patented short-contact-time Microlith® substrates for CO2 reduction via Bosch process. These catalytic substrates enabled faster reaction rates, higher CO2 conversion, and a reduced recycle penalty. Further improvements in size, volume, and weight are projected by splitting the chemistry of the Bosch process into two separate reactors: a reverse water-gas-shift (RWGS) reactor, and a carbon formation reactor (CFR). Carbon formation would be accomplished via the hydrogenation and/or Boudouard reactions. In this two-stage configuration, the operating conditions can be individually optimized to maximize CO2 conversion as well as the water and carbon production rates. The feasibility study, which included performance testing at various operating conditions, and durability testing were successfully demonstrated.

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