Tech Exchange

Shape-Memory Alloys Replace Traditional Electromagnet Actuators

Shape Memory Alloys (SMAs) are metals that “remember” their original shapes. SMA technology can provide the same mechanical movement and required forces of an electromagnetic actuator, but in a more compact form, while removing the need for motors, gearing, or springs. This SMA technology has shown a reduction in weight of up to 50%, a reduction in the space required of up 70%, and a cost reduction of up to 30% compared to traditional electromagnetic actuators. The technology can deliver mechanical movement as well as electrical connectivity, it is intrinsically safe, can be made into a flat but flexible actuator, and can operate around curvatures.

Examples of applications are compact and low-weight linear electromechanical actuators; active Bowden cable devices; and temperature-dependent shape-changing actuation, displacement, or reversible surface modification. The technology could be used by the white goods, automation, medical devices, transportation, consumer goods, and leisure goods industries.

Get the complete report on this technology at: www.techbriefs.com/tow/200906b.html Email: nasatech@yet2.com Phone: 781-972-0600

Posted in: Techs for License
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Gaseous Helium (GHe) Conservation and Recovery

John C. Stennis Space Center provides rocket engine propulsion testing for the NASA space programs. Since the development of the Space Shuttle, every Space Shuttle Main Engine (SSME) has gone through acceptance testing before going to Kennedy Space Center for integration into the Space Shuttle. The SSME is a large cryogenic rocket engine that used Liquid Oxygen (LO2) and Liquid Hydrogen (LH2) as propellants. Due to the extremely cold cryogenic conditions of this environment, an inert gas, helium, is used as a purge for the engine since it can be used without freezing in the cryogenic environment.

As NASA moves to the development of the new ARES launch system, the main engines as well as the upper stage engine will use cryogenic propellants, and will require gaseous helium during the development testing of each of these engines. The main engine for the ARES will be similar in size to the SSME.

Technology Needs

Due to the size of the SSME and the test facilities required to test the engine, extremely large quantities of helium are used during testing each year. This requirement makes Stennis one of the world’s largest users of gaseous helium, which is a non-renewable natural resource. Cost of helium is increasing as the supply diminishes. The cost and shortage of helium are beginning to impact testing of the rocket engines for the space propulsion systems.

Innovative solutions are needed for efficient, cost-effective, in-situ methods to recapture helium used during the engine purging and testing processes, to re-clean the captured helium, to re-pressurize it, and then to reintroduce it for reuse. Research into technologies in these areas, demonstration of the technology capability, and conceptual design for the technology installation at Stennis are desired to assist in the helium reuse.

Technology Challenges

Helium used in rocket engine purge must meet very specific cleanliness standards. One of the challenges will be to develop an in-situ, on-site helium re-utilization system capable of recycling the helium to cleanliness standards requirements. The technologies developed to recapture and clean the helium must be cost-effective and able to perform the recycling process in an in-situ rocket engine test area environment. Such technologies will be required to comply with all safety and quality standards required in this environment.

More Information

For additional information, contact John Lansaw at Stennis Space Center, 228-688-1962, or visit nasa@techbriefs.com.

Posted in: NASA Tech Needs
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3D and/or Flock Printing Technology

A company seeks a printing capability and/or technology that creates a physical 3D texture that is tactile and soft (but not rubbery) in nature onto a flat or curved plastic surface made of polyethylene, polypropylene, or polyester material. This 3D printing enhances the product experience for the consumer by providing a more tactile surface that can increase grip, provide a pleasant texture/feeling, and/or present a less plain/sterile surface. Materials should be FDA food-safe, as well as safe when in contact with skin.

Respond to this TechNeed at: www.techbriefs.com/tn/200905c.html Email: nasatech@yet2.com Phone: 781-972-0600

Posted in: NASA Tech Needs
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High-Temperature Brine Viscosifier

A company seeks to increase the viscosity of brine solutions containing both mono and multivalent salts. Targeted brines may contain up to 80% weight of salt. Viscosity must stay the same up to 150°C. The thickened brine should have a yield value of the order of 1Pa (or higher) and a shear thinning behavior. The overall rheology profile should be comparable to xanthan gum solution in fresh water. The aim of the viscosity increase is to suspend solid particles.

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Posted in: NASA Tech Needs
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Single-Motion Extension Mechanism for Poles

Originally developed and marketed as an extension pole for painting, light bulb changing, and similar operations, the single-motion extension principle in this technology is adaptable to any rod or pole that must be extended and retracted to a compact length. It applies to extendable antennae; tent poles; emergency equipment such as stretchers, cots, or IV poles; tools; robotic arms; or surgical instruments that must extend and retract once in the body.

The internal mechanism uses a metal tape similar to that in a retractable tape measure that pushes on the extending tube. The mechanism may be hand-operated or motorized, but either way, a single motion extends the pole. The internal, contained mechanism of the extension pole provides a singlemotion extension to about three times the collapsed length of the assembly. The assembly can be fabricated in a variety of materials in a variety of tensile and compression strengths in multiple segments. The assembly can scale up to greater lengths or be miniaturized to suit the application.

Get the complete report on this technology at: www.techbriefs.com/tow/200905a.html Email: nasatech@yet2.com Phone: 781-972-0600

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Modular Electronic Air Sterilization Technology for Airborne Bacteria, Molds, and Viruses

This technology sterilizes air, eliminating odors, preventing infections, and extending the shelf life of food. The scalable system results in 100% removal of microorganisms with one passthrough of air. The technology has optimized UV exposure with a specialized lamp construction and array formation. The system can be modularized according to the required volume flows, and can react to changes via its proprietary microchip technology. It can be used in conjunction with HEPA filters to remove all unwanted bodies within an air stream.

The underlying technology deals with the variation in atmospheric conditions. The system is made up of a series of highly developed tubular modules that include a unique internal intelligent microchip that understands changes in the humidity and temperature of the atmosphere and adapts the optimized UV exposure and flow in the unit (or series of units) to apply the minimum power required to achieve full sterilization.

Get the complete report on this technology at: www.techbriefs.com/tow/200905b.html Email: nasatech@yet2.com Phone: 781-972-0600

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Generating Sodium Hydroxide from Sodium Sulfate and Calcium Hydroxide

A company produces crystalline sodium sulfate as a byproduct, using sodium hydroxide as one of many feeds within the process. They seek to use the available compounds to produce it in situ. The company seeks a process that uses sodium sulfate and calcium oxide to produce sodium hydroxide, and could accept an aqueous product from a process with the lower limit being about 8% caustic solution with moderate sulfate content. Low calcium content in the caustic is important. The company can accept the formation of gypsum as a by-product of the process.

Respond to this TechNeed at:www.techbriefs.com/tn/200904c.html Email: nasatech@yet2.com Phone: 781-972-0600

Posted in: NASA Tech Needs, Tech Needs
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Manufacturing Method for Joining Elastic Materials

A company seeks methods of joining identical elastic materials. The current method is to use adhesives to bond the elastic components physically, but adhesives lack the strength of a chemical bond or weld. A method of joining or bonding natural or synthetic rubber in a way that can withstand a 25- pound tensile load is desirable. The bonded joint must retain the same cross-sectional area as the two components prior to joining. The bond joining the faces must be unaffected by moisture, temperature, and chemicals, and it must be able to withstand 500 cycles at 300% elongation.

Respond to this TechNeed at: www.techbriefs.com/tn/200904d.html Email: nasatech@yet2.com Phone: 781-972-0600

Posted in: NASA Tech Needs, Tech Needs
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Advanced Computational Fluid Dynamics - Mesh Generation

NASA’s work in advanced aeronautics and space vehicle development relies on advanced Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) codes such as FUN3D that rely on numerical solution of equations of motion over a discrete mesh of points in three dimensions. A judicious placement of points is required to optimize computing efficiency without greatly reducing the sensitivity and accuracy of the calculations. Rapid generation of such a mesh and its subsequent adaptation to better resolve the problem physics are critical to the application of CFD to complex real-world problems of interest.

What are the Challenges?

Improved mesh generators are needed to support programs in aerothermodynamics and fluid dynamics in general. More specifically, an anisotropic 3D mesh generator (or re-mesher) is needed that can be driven by a spatially varying metric tensor field, and which specifies mesh spacing along three orthogonal directions.

Highly anisotropic mesh about the complex Mars Phoenix LanderThe mesh generator must accommodate cell aspect ratio requests of at least 10,000:1 even in the presence of a curved metric tensor field to enable high Reynolds number finite-volume CFD applications. Furthermore, in regions of high anisotropy (not necessarily bounded by a vehicle surface), mesh cells should be dominantly layers of semi-structured hexahedra or triangular prisms to allow non-dissipative capture of bow shocks, boundary layers, free shear layers, wakes, contact surfaces, and so forth.

What is NASA Doing?

NASA currently conducts aerothermodynamic and fluid dynamics analyses of vehicles (heating rates, pressures, etc.) through the use of state-ofthe- art CFD codes. The mesh generation methods in use primarily rely on advancing front/layer, and/or Delaunay algorithms to provide the mesh of points needed to describe the vehicle and the surrounding domain of interest for the analysis. While current methods have been successfully applied to complex problems, clearly additional research and development is needed in the area of mesh generation to reduce human involvement and increase robustness.

We would like to provide uncertainty estimates (error bars) for the computational results delivered much like experimentalists do for their results. A critical component enabling this capability is mesh adaptation, whereby an existing mesh is adapted to improve the solution based on the problem physics and/or a solution error estimate. The criteria that drive the mesh adaptation are specified via a Riemannian metric tensor field. Within the field, a 3x3 (2x2 in 2 dimensions) symmetric positive definite tensor defines the desired local spacing constraints for the mesh whereby its eigenvalues represent the desired spacing along the direction of the corresponding eigenvectors.

Current mesh adaptation technology in use does not easily allow us to do this in the presence of high element anisotropy in three dimensions while maintaining element quality. If the desired mesh generator can be developed, we will gain control over spatial discretization errors for CFD codes. This will allow us to focus on physical modeling errors and automate the process of obtaining a solution for a given application with bounded discretization errors.

NASA’s immediate needs include CFD modeling of the exploration vehicles now under development to replace the shuttle for transport to the International Space Station and eventually for transport to the Moon and beyond, as well as advanced supersonic and hypersonic air vehicle development, both for NASA (Commercial) and military applications.

The astrophysics, climate analysis, and hemodynamics (blood flow) fields may also have a use for such a capability, i.e., other types of fluid dynamics applications. More Information

For more information, contact Dr. Bill Kleb at 757-812-1805 or nasa@techbriefs.com.

Posted in: NASA Tech Needs
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Green Sewage Treatment and Water Purification Technology

A green sewage treatment and water purification technology combines water with fertilizer and biomass production. The sustainable water treatment system produces biofuel and organic fertilizer, and extracts carbon from the atmosphere. No electric power is required for sewage treatment, filtering, and water cleaning. The system uses no chemicals, and can run in heavy rain without hazardous overflow. It also stays intact in dry seasons, even for several months without rain.

The system combines two layers of microbiological water treatment: an upper layer with aerobic activity and a lower layer with anaerobic activity. Since the upper layer covers the lower layer, no anaerobic gas production can escape into the atmosphere. Due to the optimized design, the clarifying power and productivity of the system is much higher than in other single-layer wetlands. Benefits include an extremely compact and effective design, protection of the lower layer by the upper layer, integrated liquid transfer, and not generating clearing sludge.

Get the complete report on this technology at:www.techbriefs.com/tow/200904a.html Email: nasatech@yet2.com Phone: 781-972-0600

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