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Corrosion-Prevention Capabilities of a Water-Borne, Silicone- Based, Primerless Coating

Some formulations are better for steel, some for aluminum. Comparative tests have been performed to evaluate the corrosion-prevention capabilities of an experimental paint of the type described in “Water-Borne, Silicone-Based, Primerless Paints,” NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 26, No. 11 (November 2002), page 30. To recapitulate: these paints contain relatively small amounts of volatile organic solvents and were developed as substitutes for traditional anticorrosion paints that contain large amounts of such solvents. An additional desirable feature of these paints is that they can be applied without need for prior application of primers to ensure adhesion.

Posted in: Materials, Briefs

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Making Activated Carbon for Storing Gas

Solid disks of microporous activated carbon, produced by a method that enables optimization of pore structure, have been investigated as means of storing gas (especially hydrogen for use as a fuel) at relatively low pressure through adsorption on pore surfaces. For hydrogen and other gases of practical interest, a narrow distribution of pore sizes <2 nm is preferable. The present method is a variant of a previously patented method of cyclic chemisorption and desorption in which a piece of carbon is alternately (1) heated to the lower of two elevated temperatures in air or other oxidizing gas, causing the formation of stable carbon/oxygen surface complexes; then (2) heated to the higher of the two elevated temperatures in flowing helium or other inert gas, causing the desorption of the surface complexes in the form of carbon monoxide. In the present method, pore structure is optimized partly by heating to a temperature of 1,100 °C during carbonization. Another aspect of the method exploits the finding that for each gas-storage pressure, gas-storage capacity can be maximized by burning off a specific proportion (typically between 10 and 20 weight percent) of the carbon during the cyclic chemisorption/desorption process.

Posted in: Materials, Briefs

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Diamond-Coated Carbon Nanotubes for Efficient Field Emission

Field-emission cathodes containing arrays of carbon nanotubes coated with diamond or diamond like carbon (DLC) are undergoing development. Multiwalled carbon nanotubes have been shown to perform well as electron field emitters. The idea underlying the present development is that by coating carbon nanotubes with wideband gap materials like diamond or DLC, one could reduce effective work functions, thereby reducing threshold electric-field levels for field emission of electrons and, hence, improving cathode performance. To demonstrate feasibility, experimental cathodes were fabricated by (1) covering metal bases with carbon nanotubes bound to the bases by an electrically conductive binder and (2) coating the nanotubes, variously, with diamond or DLC by plasma-assisted chemical vapor deposition. In tests, the threshold electric-field levels for emission of electrons were reduced by as much as 40 percent, relative to those of uncoated- nanotube cathodes. Coating with diamond or DLC could also make field emission-cathodes operate more stably by helping to prevent evaporation of carbon from nanotubes in the event of overheating of the cathodes. Cathodes of this type are expected to be useful principally as electron sources for cathode-ray tubes and flatpanel displays.

Posted in: Materials, Briefs

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Improved Anode Coatings for Direct Methanol Fuel Cells

Two perfluoroalkanesulfonic compounds offer increased fuel-utilization rates and reduced polarization levels. Two perfluoroalkanesulfonic acids and perfluoroalkanesulfonimides have shown promise as anodecoating materials for improving the performances of direct methanol fuel cells (DMFCs). Heretofore, the state-of-the-art material commonly used for coating anodes in DMFCs has been Nafion™-H — a perfluorosulfonic acid-based hydrophilic, proton-conducting ion-exchange polymer that exhibits relatively high thermal and electrochemical stability. Relative to Nafion™-H, the present coating materials afford greater rates of electro-oxidation of methanol, smaller polarization losses and, hence, greater energy-conversion efficiencies.

Posted in: Materials, Briefs, TSP

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Advanced Ablative Insulators and Methods of Making Them

Reinforced, filled silicones and carbon phenolics are laser-milled to final shapes. Advanced ablative (more specifically, charring) materials that provide temporary protection against high temperatures, and advanced methods of designing and manufacturing insulators based on these materials, are undergoing development. These materials and methods were conceived in an effort to replace the traditional thermal- protection systems (TPSs) of reentry spacecraft with robust, lightweight, better-performing TPSs that can be designed and manufactured more rapidly and at lower cost. These materials and methods could also be used to make improved TPSs for general aerospace, military, and industrial applications.

Posted in: Materials, Briefs

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Nonflammable, Hydrophobic Aerogel Composites for Insulation

Aerogel composites that are both nonflammable and hydrophobic have been developed for use as lightweight thermal- insulation materials for cryogenic systems. Aerogels are well known in the industry for their effectiveness as thermal insulators under cryogenic conditions, but the treatments used heretofore to render them hydrophobic also make them flammable. Nonflammability would make it safer to use aerogel insulation, especially in oxygen-rich environments and on cryogenic systems that contain liquid oxygen.

Posted in: Materials, Briefs

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PETIs as High-Temperature Resin-Transfer-Molding Materials

PETI-matrix/carbon-fiber composites made by resin-transfer molding have excellent properties. Compositions of, and processes for fabricating, high-temperature composite materials from phenylethynyl-terminated imide (PETI) oligomers by resin-transfer molding (RTM) and resin infusion have been developed. Composites having a combination of excellent mechanical properties and long-term high-temperature stability have been readily fabricated. These materials are particularly useful for the fabrication of high-temperature structures for jet-engine components, structural components on high-speed aircraft, spacecraft, and missiles.

Posted in: Materials, Briefs, TSP

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