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Centrifugal Sieve for Gravity-Level-Independent Size Segregation of Granular Materials

Centrifugal force can significantly shorten the time to segregate feedstock into a set of different-sized fractions. Conventional size segregation or screening in batch mode, using stacked vibrated screens, is often a time-consuming process. Utilization of centrifugal force instead of gravity as the primary body force can significantly shorten the time to segregate feedstock into a set of different-sized fractions. Likewise, under reduced gravity or microgravity, a centrifugal sieve system would function as well as it does terrestrially. When vibratory and mechanical blade sieving screens designed for terrestrial conditions were tested under lunar gravity conditions, they did not function well. The centrifugal sieving design of this technology overcomes the issues that prevented sieves designed for terrestrial conditions from functioning under reduced gravity.

Posted in: Materials, Briefs

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Ion Exchange Technology Development in Support of the Urine Processor Assembly

Resins can filter gypsum out of urine, improving the water recovery rate. The urine processor assembly (UPA) on the International Space Station (ISS) recovers water from urine via a vacuum distillation process. The distillation occurs in a rotating distillation assembly (DA) where the urine is heated and subjected to sub-ambient pressure. As water is removed, the original organics, salts, and minerals in the urine become more concentrated and result in urine brine. Eventually, water removal will concentrate the urine brine to super saturation of individual constituents, and precipitation occurs. Under typical UPA DA operating conditions, calcium sulfate or gypsum is the first chemical to precipitate in substantial quantity. During preflight testing with ground urine, the UPA achieved 85% water recovery without precipitation.

Posted in: Materials, Briefs

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Nickel-Graphite Composite Compliant Interface and/or Hot Shoe Material

This innovation is a technique for joining various thermoelectric materials into segmented device architectures. Next-generation high-temperature thermoelectric-power-generating devices will employ segmented architectures and will have to reliably withstand thermally induced mechanical stresses produced during component fabrication, device assembly, and operation. Thermoelectric materials have typically poor mechanical strength, exhibit brittle behavior, and possess a wide range of coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) values. As a result, the direct bonding at elevated temperatures of these materials to each other to produce segmented leg components is difficult, and often results in localized microcracking at interfaces and mechanical failure due to the stresses that arise from the CTE mismatch between the various materials. Even in the absence of full mechanical failure, degraded interfaces can lead to increased electrical and thermal resistances, which adversely impact conversion efficiency and power output.

Posted in: Materials, Briefs

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100 Percent Solids: Superior Adhesive Technology for the Medical Industry

Adhesives using 100 percent solids coating act fast, without need for solvents. In the medical industry, adhesives play a crucial role in applications ranging from diagnostics and device assembly to transdermal and wound care. There are varying methods by which an adhesive can be coated onto a substrate, but solvent coating has dominated in the medical industry for many years. Solvent-coated silicone, acrylic, and rubber-based adhesives are widely used as medical adhesive solutions. Despite their popularity, solvent-coated adhesives are far from a perfect answer to the medical market’s needs. Solvents may contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and even carcinogens that can be dangerous to humans. There are also major concerns regarding outgassing or leaching from solvent- coated adhesives in medical settings. As a process, solvent coating is not especially efficient with adhesives requiring drying, which can limit speed and cost-effectiveness of processing.

Posted in: Bio-Medical, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Materials / Adhesives / Coatings, Materials, Coatings & Adhesives, Medical, Briefs, MDB

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Cu-Cr-Nb-Zr Alloy for Rocket Engines and Other High-Heat- Flux Applications

Applications include high-temperature, highefficiency industrial heat exchangers, welding electrodes, and head gaskets for automobile racing engines. Rocket-engine main combustion chamber liners are used to contain the burning of fuel and oxidizer and provide a stream of high-velocity gas for propulsion. The liners in engines such as the Space Shuttle Main Engine are regeneratively cooled by flowing fuel, e.g., cryogenic hydrogen, through cooling channels in the back side of the liner. The heat gained by the liner from the flame and compression of the gas in the throat section is transferred to the fuel by the liner. As a result, the liner must either have a very high thermal conductivity or a very high operating temperature.

Posted in: Materials, Briefs

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Microgravity Storage Vessels and Conveying- Line Feeders for Cohesive Regolith

This design may provide a reliable, robust method for filling pharmaceutical capsules with fine, dry powders. Under microgravity, the usual methods of placing granular solids into, or extracting them from, containers or storage vessels will not function. Alternative methods are required to provide a motive force to move the material. New configurations for microgravity regolith storage vessels that do not resemble terrestrial silos, hoppers, or tanks are proposed. The microgravity-compatible bulk-material storage vessels and exitfeed configurations are designed to reliably empty and feed cohesive material to transfer vessels or conveying ducts or lines without gravity. A controllable motive force drives the cohesive material to the exit opening(s), and provides a reliable means to empty storage vessels and/or to feed microgravity conveying lines. The proposed designs will function equally well in vacuum, or inside of pressurized enclosures.

Posted in: Materials, Briefs

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High-Strength, Superelastic Compounds

A new ordered intermetallic compound reduces costs, increases performance, and prevents cracking and distortion during thermal processing. In a previous disclosure, the use of 60-NiTiNOL, an ordered intermetallic compound composed of 60 weight percent nickel and 40 weight percent titanium, was investigated as a material for advanced aerospace bearings due to its unique combination of physical properties. Lessons learned during the development of applications for this material have led to the discovery that, with the addition of a ternary element, the resulting material can be thermally processed at a lower temperature to attain the same desirable hardness level as the original material. Processing at a lower temperature is beneficial, not only because it reduces processing costs from energy consumption, but because it also significantly reduces the possibility of quench cracking and thermal distortion, which have been problematic with the original material. A family of ternary substitutions has been identified, including Hf and Zr in various atomic percentages with varying concentrations of Ni and Ti.

Posted in: Materials, Briefs

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