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 .
Functionalization of Carbon Nanotubes
Ames Research Center has developed a method and system for dry chemical functionalization of a collection of carbon nanotubes (CNTs). For many applications of nanotubes in sensors, composites, and other nano devices, chemical functionalization of the nanotubes is necessary. A common approach to functionalize nanotubes is to use a wet chemical procedure or electrochemical procedure; this technology is a clean and efficient approach. Multifunctional composite materials have applications in body armor and spacesuits, heat exchange systems, radiators, chemical sensors, computers, and electronics. Contact: Ames Research Center Technology
Aeronautic Sound Shield to Reduce Noise Pollution
Researchers at Armstrong Flight Research Center have patented a low-cost sound shield capable of reducing the noise of aircraft traveling at subsonic speed. The technology injects a high-molecular- weight gas onto the aircraft surface, producing a local area of supersonic flow. This blocks sound waves traveling in all directions without diminishing aircraft performance or efficiency. The sound shield also reduces wear and fatigue of aircraft components, and offers a low-cost design. Applications include commercial aircraft, high-speed trains, and gas turbines.
Contact: Armstrong Flight Research Center Technology
Solenoid-Controlled Valve Health Monitor
Kennedy Space Center (KSC) developed the Solenoid-Controlled Valve Health Monitor to remotely monitor the health of solenoid valves, which are widely used at KSC. The sensor can help lower operational costs and increase reliability by predicting valve failures before they occur. The system monitors solenoid performance by comparing the electrical current profile of each solenoid actuation to a typical current profile. The complete system contains the health-monitoring software, smart current signature sensors, and modules for signal acquisition, signal conditioning, power supply, and calibration.