Special Coverage

Home

PICA-on-Edge

This material fills gaps between adjacent PICA blocks. Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia The current baseline ablator material for the Advanced Development Program (ADP) for the thermal protection system (TPS) of the Orion heat shield is phenolic impregnated carbon ablator (PICA). PICA is a low-density, low-strength material that must be isolated from mechanically and thermally induced deformations and strains of the underlying heat shield carrier structure. The current invention is being developed to provide a means of eliminating gaps between adjacent PICA blocks by filling the gaps with a compatible, relatively soft material that alleviates thermal and mechanical stresses that would occur in rigidly bonded PICA blocks. An ideal gap material should have comparable thermal and ablative performance to PICA, and have low enough porosity to prevent hot gas flow in the gap. It must be compliant enough that adjacent PICA blocks can move somewhat independently of each other and the underlying carrier structure to reduce thermal and mechanical stresses to acceptable levels.

Posted in: Materials, Briefs, TSP

Read More >>

White, Electrically Dissipative Thermal Control Coating

Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland A highly reflective, white conductive coating system was developed using various layered coatings to maximize the structural, electrical, and optical reflectance properties for spacecraft radiators. The top layer of the system contains a highly reflective white pigment within a dissipative inorganic binder. This layer is above a highly conductive second layer containing a white conductive pigment within the same binder system.

Posted in: Materials, Briefs, TSP

Read More >>

Hydrazine Absorbent/Detoxification Pad

This hydrazine-degrading pad has applications in hazardous-material emergency response situations. Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas A new chemistry was developed for existing hydrazine absorbent/detoxification pads. Enhancements include faster reaction rates, weight reduction, a color change that indicates spill occurrence, and another color change that indicates successful hydrazine degradation. The previous spill control pad, using copper oxide on the silica gel substrate as the reactant, affected only 50 percent degradation of hydrazine after 9 hours. The new prototypes have been found to degrade hydrazine from 95 to 99.9 percent in only 5 minutes, and to below detection limits within 90 minutes.

Posted in: Materials, Briefs, TSP

Read More >>

Nanotechnology Approach to Lightweight, Multifunctional Polyethylene Composite Materials

Potential uses include personal armor, implantable prosthetics, and cut-resistant fabrics such as gloves worn by chefs and scuba divers. Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia Of several ideas being pursued by NASA for the reduction of radiation dosage to astronauts, the use of ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene (UHMWPE)-based composite materials for both radiation shielding and micrometeorite shielding appears to be particularly appealing. UHMWPE has long been understood to provide superior radiation shielding following encounters with energetic nucleons due to its high hydrogen content. Meanwhile, impacts of micrometeorites with UHMWPE tend to vaporize it, rather than causing spallation of the shield material, which then creates additional potentially damaging micrometeorites. Less widely appreciated is the high specific strength of UHMWPE and UHMWPE fibers, which provide structural integrity to the composite. Amongst thermoplastics, UHMWPE has the highest impact strength and is also highly resistant to abrasion. Despite this highly appealing combination of properties, UHMWPE’s key mechanical properties can be improved by forming composites with other nanostructured materials, leading to further performance increases and weight reductions. Such composites will increase the ability of UHMWPE structures to withstand micrometeorite impacts and maintain the structural integrity of a pressurized environment.

Posted in: Materials, Briefs, TSP

Read More >>

Electrostrictive Polymers

These lightweight and durable materials enable sensing and actuation devices. Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia A new class of electroactive polymeric blend materials has been created that offers both sensing and actuation dual functionality. The blend is comprised of two components where one has sensing capability, and the other has actuating capability. These innovative materials provide significant field-induced strain, high mechanical output force, and exceptional strain energy density. These electrostrictive polymers are conformable, lightweight, and durable. The processing system to fabricate these polymers is simple and can be manipulated to control and optimize the materials’ mechanical and electrical properties.

Posted in: Materials, Briefs, TSP

Read More >>

Catalyst for Treatment and Control of Post-Combustion Emissions

This oxidation/reduction catalyst can be used in diesel and natural gas applications, and in nonautomotive pollution sources. Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia Emissions from fossil-fuel combustion contribute significantly to smog, acid rain, and global warming problems, and are subject to stringent environmental regulations. These regulations are expected to become more stringent as state and regional authorities become more involved in addressing these environmental problems. Better systems are needed for catalytic control.

Posted in: Materials, Coatings & Adhesives, Briefs, TSP

Read More >>

Thermally Activated Crack Healing Mechanism for Metallic Materials

A thin metallic film of a low-melting-temperature healing agent is used. Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia A thermally activated healing mechanism is proposed and experimentally validated to mitigate crack propagation damage in metallic materials. The protected structure is coated with a thin metallic film of a low-melting-temperature healing agent. To heal or mitigate crack damage, the structure is heated to the melting temperature of the healing agent, allowing it to flow into the crack opening. Once in the crack mouth, the healing agent has two benefits: (1) by adhering to the crack surfaces, the healing agent bridges the crack, reducing the amount of load at the crack tip; and (2) any voluminous substance in the crack mouth causes crack closure (premature crack-face contact during cyclic loading) that also reduces the crack-tip loading.

Posted in: Materials, Coatings & Adhesives, Briefs, TSP

Read More >>