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 http://technology.nasa.gov.
High-Speed Idle Engine Control Mode
Glenn Research Center developed an engine control mode that improves an engine’s responsiveness to throttle commands during emergency landing conditions. The high-speed idle (HSI) control mode increases the speed of the engine’s fan and core shafts, allowing faster response and increased maneuverability during landing conditions when engines are in a low-power state. The technology would be activated on approach when an aircraft has experienced an emergency. Use of HSI increases fuel consumption, but it would be used only in emergencies where the additional engine performance will help improve aircraft survivability.
Contact: Glenn Research Center
Digital Machine Control Electronics
Marshall Space Flight Center offers a suite of technologies for digital control of electronic machinery. Originally developed for the autonomous assembly of modular space structures, the base innovations in the suite can improve gap sensors and absolute position sensors. They sense position and proximity, and can also wirelessly communicate information to drive switching and stepper motor operations. The technologies can benefit industrial robotics applications, and can be combined to perform a variety of functions. The innovations are self-calibrating and have embedded integrity-monitoring functions for assured position and proximity readings.
Contact: Marshall Space Flight Center
Metal Oxide/Vertical Graphene Hybrid Supercapacitors
Ames Research Center developed a novel hybrid supercapacitor system utilizing vertical graphene as an electrode material grown directly on collector metals using a plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition. Supercapacitors are an alternative to batteries for energy storage, offering high power density and rapid charging time. Nanomaterials such as carbon nanotubes and graphene offer high surface area and porosity to construct the electrodes. Applications include electric vehicle power sources, renewable energy storage, consumer electronics, computer memory backup devices, and power deliver y solutions for forklifts, robots, buses, trolleys, and light rail.