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Products of Tomorrow: January 2015

The technologies NASA develops don’t just blast off into space. They also improve our lives here on Earth. Life-saving search-and-rescue tools, implantable medical devices, advances in commercial aircraft safety, increased accuracy in weather forecasting, and the miniature cameras in our cellphones are just some of the examples of NASA-developed technology used in products today.

Posted in: Manufacturing & Prototyping, Materials, Sensors, Products, Techs for License, Articles

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Heat-Conducting Plastic Blend Developed

The spaghetti-like internal structure of most plastics makes it hard for them to cast away heat, but a University of Michigan (U-M) research team has made a plastic blend that does so 10 times better than its conventional counterparts. Because plastics restrict the flow of heat, their use is limited in technologies like computers, smartphones, cars, or airplanes — places that could benefit from their properties, but where heat dissipation is important.

Posted in: Plastics, Articles, UpFront

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Low-Weight, Durable, Low-Cost Metal Rubber Sensor System for Ultra-Long-Duration Scientific Balloons

Sensors integrated onto load-bearing seams measure axial loads in the most extreme environmental conditions. Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland Large axial load forces and extreme temperature ranges are typical for scientific balloon missions. Therefore, a durable, flexible, and thermally stable sensor material is needed. In this innovation, sensors have been designed to be integrated onto the load-bearing seams and/or outer balloon mesh polyethylene surface of the pressurized balloon system to measure accurately and continually axial loads under extreme environmental conditions for extended intervals (i.e. more than 100 days).

Posted in: Materials, Coatings & Adhesives, Metals, Sensors, Articles, Briefs, TSP

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High-Performance Polyimide Powder Coatings

Applications include bridges, pipes, machinery, exposed metal parts and structures, and automobile components. John F. Kennedy Space Center, Florida Powder coatings are used throughout industry to paint a myriad of metallic objects. This method of coating has gained popularity because of its conservation of materials and elimination of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Resins used in powder coatings are traditionally chosen from those that have low melting points (polyesters, acrylics, urethanes, epoxies, etc.). These resins are used because they can melt and flow into a smooth coating before curing to a durable surface. High-performance resins such as Teflon, nylon, and polyimide have not found use in powder coatings because of their high melting points.

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

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Selective Functionalization of Carbon Nanotubes

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas This invention is a process by which carbon nanotubes can be chemically functionalized according to their precise electronic structure. The process involves an exploitation of charge transfer stability at the nanotube sidewall to direct selective reaction of certain electronic structures over others. This process forms the basis for manipulating and separating carbon nanotubes by their electronic structure by chemical means.

Posted in: Materials, Articles, Briefs

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Predictive Modeling of Corrosion Efficiencies and Toxicities

An analytical approach using a combination of descriptors successfully predicts the performance of a wide range of organic corrosion inhibitors. John F. Kennedy Space Center, Florida Atmospheric corrosion is significantly accelerated by the presence of heat, humidity, corrosive salts, and sunlight. At Kennedy Space Center (KSC), all of these accelerants are present, producing an extremely corrosive environment. Toxicity and environmental impacts of some inorganic corrosion inhibitors have severely limited the use of some of the most effective corrosion inhibitors. Unfortunately, robust, low-toxicity, high-performance organic corrosion inhibitors for coatings are not yet at a stage to replace the most effective inorganic inhibitors.

Posted in: Materials, Articles, Briefs, TSP

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Improving Foreign Object Damage Performance for 2D Woven Ceramic Matrix Composites

A model simulates high-speed impact response of ceramic matrix composites. John H. Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio As the power density of advanced engines increases, the need for new materials that are capable of high operating temperatures, such as ceramic matrix composites (CMCs), is critical for turbine hot-section static and rotating components. Such advanced materials can significantly increase engine operating temperatures relative to those with conventional superalloy metallic blades. They also show the potential to enable longer life, growth margin, reduced emissions, reduced weight, and increased performance when compared with superalloy blade materials.

Posted in: Materials, Composites, Articles, Briefs, TSP

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