NASA Goddard Space Flight Center has developed the NOVA zero-leak, permanent isolation valve that helps prevent leaks in space propulsion systems with operating pressures less than or equal to 500 psia. The actuator is made from nitinol, a heat-activated, non-explosive, shape memory alloy and the result is a valve that is much safer than the currently used pyrovalve.

Prior to actuation, the valve allows propellant flow with a pressure drop of <3 psi at a flow rate of 0.15 kg/s. NOVA is actuated by heating a compressed piece of nitinol, which causes it to recover or elongate. This applies a force to the actuator tube that fractures it, initiating a spring that closes the valve, creating a leak-tight seal. NOVA is designed in such a way that the pressurized propellant upstream provides positive pressure on the valve's seal. The valve is compatible with all storable propellants.

NASA is actively seeking licensees to commercialize this technology. For more information, contact the Goddard Strategic Partnerships Office at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 301-286-5810. Follow this link here  for more information.

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This article first appeared in the August, 2019 issue of Tech Briefs Magazine.

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