This column presents technologies that have applications in commercial areas, possibly creating the products of tomorrow. To learn more about each technology, see the contact information provided for that innovation.
Powder Particles for Corrosion Prevention in Rebar
Corrosion of reinforced steel in concrete structures is a significant problem for NASA's Kennedy Space Center due to the close proximity of the structures to salt spray from the nearby Atlantic Ocean. To minimize damage to such structures, coatings were developed that could be applied as liquids to the external surfaces of a substrate in which the metal structures were embedded. The Anti-Corrosive Powder Particles combine metallic materials into a uniform particle that can be applied to prevent corrosion of rebar embedded in concrete. The resultant powder can be sprayed simultaneously with a liquid binder onto the surface of concrete structures with a uniform distribution of the metallic pigment. This provides optimum cathodic protection of the underlying steel in the concrete in parking decks, highway and bridge infrastructures, offshore platforms, pipelines, and building foundations.
Contact: Jeff Kohler, Kennedy Space Center
Ceramic Nanofiber Sponges for Flexible Insulation
Brown University researchers have made ultralight sponge-like materials from nanoscale ceramic fibers. The highly porous, compressible, and heat-resistant sponges could have numerous uses, from water purification devices to flexible insulating materials. Nanoscale fibers promote deformation mechanisms such as creep, where atoms can diffuse along grain boundaries, enabling the material to deform without breaking. Because of those nanoscale dynamics, materials made from ceramic nanofibers have the potential to be deformable and flexible, while maintaining the heat resistance that makes ceramics useful in high-temperature applications. The sponges can rebound after compressive strain up to 50 percent, and can maintain resilience at temperatures up to 800 °C. The sponges’ heat resistance and deformability make them potentially useful as an insulating layer in firefighters’ clothing.
Contact: Kevin Stacey, Brown University
Instantly Rechargeable Battery for Electric and Hybrid Cars
A technology developed by Purdue University researchers could provide an “instantly rechargeable“ method that is safe, affordable, and environmentally friendly for recharging electric and hybrid vehicle batteries through a quick and easy process similar to refueling a car at a gas station. The innovation could expedite the adoption of electric and hybrid vehicles by eliminating the time needed to stop and re-charge a conventional electric car's battery. The energy storage system would enable drivers to fill up their electric or hybrid vehicles with fluid electrolytes to re-energize spent battery fluids, much like refueling their gas tanks. The spent battery fluids or electrolyte could be collected and taken to a solar farm, wind turbine installation, or hydroelectric plant for recharging.