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.

This column presents technologies that have applications in commercial areas, possibly creating the products of tomorrow. If you are interested in licensing the technologies described here, use the contact information provided. To learn about more available technologies, visit the NASA Technology Transfer Portal at .

3D Sprag In Ratcheting Tool

This technology from Goddard Space Flight Center is a ratcheting device comprised of a driver head assembly that includes at least two three-dimensional sprag elements positioned within a first groove in the driver head. The 3D sprag elements engage the driver head to allow for rotation of the hub assembly. This allows the ratcheting tool to impart torque in either the clockwise or counterclockwise direction without having to first rotate the ratcheting tool in the direction opposite the direction in which the torque is applied. The technology can increase performance of a hand tool, in addition to increasing torque.

Contact: Goddard Technology Transfer Office

Phone: 301-286-4698 

Flywheel Electromechanical Batteries

Flywheel energy systems are simple in concept. An electric motor is used to spin up a wheel or rotor to store energy, and energy is discharged by an electric generator, spinning down the flywheel. Glenn Research Center’s flywheel energy storage technology has the capability to provide lower weight, 5-10 times longer battery life, and 10-20 percent higher efficiencies than traditional batteries. Additionally, users can expect more reliability and greater operational flexibility. The technology has applications not only for spacecraft, but also for the transportation, utility, and manufacturing industries.

Contact: Glenn Technology Transfer Office

Phone: 216-433-8047 

Analog Nonvolatile Computer Memory

Marshall Space Flight Center has developed an entirely new method for storing and retrieving electronic data. The device is used to store digital computer information as an analog signal on a ferroelectric transistor (FeFET). It is a significant improvement over the current standard Flash and CMOS memory technologies, and could potentially become an industry standard for computer memory. The technology emerged from research into ferroelectric devices, specifically Fe capacitors. It can read and write data at high speed with an unlimited number of cycles, and retain the data for long periods of time without power.

Contact: Marshall Technology Transfer Office

Phone: 256-544-5226 

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the November, 2014 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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