Hypergolic fuel sensors were designed to incorporate novel chemo chromic pigments into substrates for use in various methods of leak detection. There are several embodiments to this invention that would provide specific visual indication of hypergols used during and after transfer. The ability to incorporate these pigments into various polymer matrices provides a unique opportunity to manufacture nearly any type of sensor shape that is required. The vibrant color change from yellow to black instantaneously shows the worker the presence of hypergols in the area, providing the worker the ability to immediately evacuate the area.

The chemochromic pigments are prepared in powder or liquid form for addition into many different materials in different articles. With the ability to incorporate the pigment into a wide range of materials, the sensor can take any embodiment allowed by various manufacturing methods. For example, the sensor can be manufactured in the form of polymer tape that can have several unique structures designed for different applications, from several layers to protect the tape from environmental conditions, to re-useable adhesive to allow for repositioning of the sensor. The sensor can be extruded into various size tapes or sheets, injection molded into uniquely shaped parts, or incorporated into fibers with fiber-spinning methods to make fabrics or personal protective equipment. Add itionally, the sensor can be incorporated into a badge holder to be used as a point leak detector. This can be done by creating a clear, or nearly clear, polymer cap for connection points, and placing the sensing material at the end of the cap where it can be seen by a technician.

These sensors provide the capability for numerous areas to be constantly visually monitored for leaks. These sensors are easy to replace and have a very low implementation cost.

This work was done by Luke Roberson, Janine Captain, Edgardo Santiago-Maldonado, and Stanley Starr of Kennedy Space Center; and Robert DeVor of ASRC Aerospace Corporation. For more information, contact the Kennedy Space Center Innovative Partnerships Office at 321-867-5033. KSC-13351/636


NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the January, 2013 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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