Special Coverage

Soft Robot “Walks” on Any Terrain
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
Using Microwaves to Produce High-Quality Graphene
Transducer-Actuator Systems for On-Machine Measurements and Automatic Part Alignment
Wide-Area Surveillance Using HD LWIR Uncooled Sensors
Heavy Lift Wing in Ground (WIG) Cargo Flying Boat
Technique Provides Security for Multi-Robot Systems
Bringing New Vision to Laser Material Processing Systems
NASA Tests Lasers’ Ability to Transmit Data from Space
Converting from Hydraulic Cylinders to Electric Actuators
Automating Optimization and Design Tasks Across Disciplines

Self-Regulating, Freezable Heat Exchanger for Spacecraft

Freeze-tolerant tubing can be used in home and commercial sprinkler systems and water supply lines.

Aspacecraft thermal control system must keep the vehicle, avionics, and atmosphere (if crewed) within a defined temperature range. Water coolant loops are typically used to transport heat to or from the cabin of a crewed spacecraft via heat exchangers to the heat sink systems that reject the heat to space. Water is non-toxic and good for heat transport, but it has a high freeze point. Thus, there is concern that the water loop can freeze and damage the thermal control system unless a low-freeze-point intermediate fluid loop is included. Incorporating a freeze-tolerant water/ice heat exchanger can eliminate this risk, and offers a novel approach to spacecraft thermal control, since parts of the heat exchanger can be selectively frozen to passively increase the turndown of the heat rejection rate. In addition, it has the potential to simplify the thermal control system and thereby reduce its size and mass.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components

Low-Power, Lightweight, Ultra-Compact Reverse Water Gas Shift Reactor

This reactor can be used to produce reagents for methanol, formaldehyde, acetic acid, or ethylene production.

Utilizing CO2 to produce H2O and O2 is critical for sustained manned missions in space, and supports both NASA’s cabin Atmosphere Revitalization System (ARS) and ln-situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) concepts. For long-term missions beyond low Earth orbit where resupply of consumables is significantly more difficult and costly, open-loop ARS can reduce the effectiveness of consumables recovery. The Bosch process has the potential to achieve complete loop closure for 100% O2 recovery; however, it has several limitations, including reactor fouling and low single-pass efficiency. NASA MSFC has been developing an innovative Bosch system comprising a Reverse Water Gas Shift (RWGS) reactor and a downstream Carbon Formation reactor that would significantly improve the overall O2 recovery.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components

Inflatable Airlock Technologies

This technology can be used for tents, bags, barometric chambers, or wherever environmental barriers are needed.

An airlock used in space can provide the ability to leave a pressurized volume and enter free space. This is necessary to perform maintenance or make repairs to the pressurized volume or visiting spacecraft, construct or repair structures or devices, tend in-space experiments, etc. The airlock is used to provide the transition between internal pressurized volume, i.e. a shirtsleeve environment, and space. Current state-of-the-art units on the Space Station are rigid systems consisting of massive pressure vessels, hatches, and seals. Past efforts have investigated fabric-based ways of forming the airlock pressure volume, but all have used a more traditional metallic or composite door or hatch, which are heavy and difficult to package into a small volume. The need exists for an airlock, pressure vessel, and opening that are lightweight and can be packaged efficiently.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components

Passive High-Temperature Sealing Device

This device can stop the flow of gas or liquid in conditions of sudden overheating.

Asealing device was developed that acts as a high-temperature shutoff valve for pipes and ducts. The device is an annular ring that can be slipped over the outside of the pipe (or built into a flanged spool piece). The cavity inside the device is filled with a gas, liquid, or even a solid. When exposed to an elevated temperature, the material in the cavity expands, providing sufficient inward force to collapse the thinner process pipe wall, stopping flow within the pipe.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components

Tamper-Indicating Bolt

This system detects whether tampering has occurred in a container or compartment during storage or transport.

In storage and/or transport of certain items, the ability to detect tampering with a container or compartment for such items can be necessary and valuable. In the transport of hazardous substances or nuclear materials (including fuels and/or radioactive waste), there are particularly stringent requirements to ensure integrity as well as safe transport and storage of materials. A retailer shipping inventory may need to know whether tampering with the container has occurred during transport to determine if shipment is original and complete.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components

Warming Up to Cold Forming: An Alternative to Precision Machining?

Designing and manufacturing complex, precision parts can be difficult and costly. Often, Engineers default to traditional machining when designing precision metal parts, but are there other methods that are better suited? Find out if cold forming is the right manufacturing capability for your next project in this 30-minute high-level introduction.

Posted in: On-Demand Webinars, Mechanical Components

Omni Jaw 5™ Powered Protrusion Cutter

With an interchangeable jaw, the tool can be used as a bolt cutter, punch, or shear.

In many manufacturing and construction activities, it is frequently necessary to remove a protrusion of material from a component or from a substrate surface. These removal operations include clipping the head off a bolt, or removing a nut, rivet, weld bead, or temporary assembly alignment tab from a substrate surface of assembled components. These operations may be required during normal assembly, during demolition of equipment or facilities, or during product repair or manufacturing rework activities.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components, Maintenance, Repair and Service Operations, Maintenance, repair, and service operations, Tools and equipment, Assembling, Cutting

Water-Saving Firefighting Nozzle

This nozzle extinguishes fires faster and with far less water than existing systems.

Fluorocarbon-based fire extinguishing agents are environmentally harmful since they cause depletion of the Earth's ozone layer. Fine Water Mist (FWM)-type systems have very favorable characteristics as replacements for existing Halon systems. Typically, these systems include nozzles for creating misting fluids using pressurized gas, and continue to show favor as a mechanism for fire prevention. In these systems, a liquid is typically directed into a central bore of the nozzle, which directs a flow of high-velocity gas. In some nozzles, the velocity and pressure of the gas are increased in a narrowed throat area of the bore, causing the atomization of the fluid into small droplets as the gas travels through the nozzle.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components

Sandia Cooler

Applications include laptops and other electronic devices, automotive, appliances, and any device comprising one or more forced-air exchangers.

Heat exchangers are used for the transfer of heat between two or more media. The media may be separated by a solid wall so that they never mix, or they may be in direct contact. Heat exchangers may be used in HVAC systems, power plants, and mechanical devices and systems that require heat transfer. Examples of systems where heat dissipation would be desirable are various electromechanical systems, and electronics applications such as conventional computing systems. In a typical computing system that includes a CPU, one or more memory devices, and other circuitry, cooling of the CPU in particular may be an important design consideration.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components

Ruck Dock Load Carriage Connector System

This device is used by civilians and military personnel who wear heavy backpacks, such as campers, rangers, firefighters, hikers, and soldiers.

Soldiers, civilians engaged in activities such as hiking, and public safety personnel engaged in search and rescue missions all require reliable systems for the effective carriage of necessary equipment. The most simplistic backpacks and rucksacks often do not incorporate a frame or other rigid load-distribution structure. Such frameless packs are suitable only for relatively light loads, as the bulk of the weight is transferred solely at two points: the shoulders of the user. Additionally, without auxiliary mounting points, the frameless backpack is subject to significant bouncing or swaying as the user runs or jumps.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components

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