Plasma-Assisted Catalytic Reverse Water Gas Shift Reactor

For improving CO2 conversions for a low-temperature CO2 methanation process, a mechanism of using reverse water gas shift (RWGS) reaction as an intermediate step to generate the more reactive CO species for the methanation process was developed. The challenge was to achieve useful conversions of RWGS reaction (CO2 to CO by hydrogenation) at low temperatures (200-300 °C), which is not possible with conventional catalytic reactors. Achieving useful conversions (up to ~50%) is not possible at the desired temperature window of 200-300 °C with a conventional catalytic reactor due to equilibrium limitations of the endothermic RWGS reactor.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components
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Folding-Tube Deployable Solar Array

Future space missions incorporating solar electric propulsion (SEP) will require large solar arrays that are an order of magnitude larger than the current state of the art for deployable arrays. This invention is a structural concept for such an array, and was designed to enable large arrays that package compactly and are exceptionally lightweight.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components
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Vented Launch Vehicle Adapter for a Manned Spacecraft With “Pusher” Launch Abort System

A Launch Vehicle Adapter (LVA) was developed that provides a structural interface between a Commercial Crew Vehicle (CCV) Crew Module/Service Module Spacecraft (CM/SM) and an expendable launch vehicle. It also provides a means to control the exhaust plume from a pusher type launch abort system integrated into the Service Module.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components
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Delayed Latching Mechanism

Uncontrolled and rapid movement of equipment and people through security gates has been a major problem for security personnel. In situations pertaining to facility security, it is desirable to delay the passage of a person through an entrance or an exit for a small interval of time, such as several seconds or up to a minute. Often, authorization to proceed is provided by an electronic signal to unlock the passageway. Such electronic signals are initiated remotely by a person in authority, such as a guard in a control room viewing a security camera, or a person who verifies the identity of the requester through a two-way audio connection.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components
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Multifunctional Hot Structure (HOST) Heat Shield

Traditional heat shield design isolates the functions of the thermal protection system (TPS) from the underlying load-carrying structure. This is due to the use of brittle TPS material that cannot carry the structural loads and that ablate during planetary entry. To isolate the TPS, the traditional approach has been to either bond a strain isolation pad between the TPS and structure or to design the structure significantly thick to eliminate bending loads transferred to the TPS. Adhesive is used to bond the TPS to the pad and/or structure. These bond lines can be a source of stress concentrations and manufacturing flaws.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components
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Feed Mechanism and Method for Feeding Minute Components

Electrical circuits such as printed wiring boards or hybrid microcircuits designed to utilize surface mount electrical components are commonly assembled by computer-controlled automated equipment. These machines typically use a vacuum nozzle to pick up and handle the components during assembly. Three methods are commonly used to feed surface mount components to automatic assembly equipment: tape reel feeders, linear or bowl-type vibratory feeders, or waffle-style packages.

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Vibration-Dampening Pedestal for MEMS

Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) are critical devices for various highly sensitive applications; however, the development and potential fielding of these next-generation smart systems is currently impeded by the inability to satisfy the stringent performance standards for precision and control. These advanced smart systems currently suffer from severe inaccuracies caused by a critical failure of a MEMS inertial measurement unit (IMU), i.e., the angular rate sensor (ARS).

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components
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Compact, Portable Device for Structural Vibration Reduction

Tuned mass dampers are used worldwide to mitigate vibrations in structures like buildings and bridges where excessive movement can be alarming or even sickening to occupants. The vast majority are multi-ton devices that occupy an average of 1,000 square feet, and are complex and costly to install, tune, and maintain.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components
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Self-Regulating, Freezable Heat Exchanger for Spacecraft

Aspacecraft thermal control system must keep the vehicle, avionics, and atmosphere (if crewed) within a defined temperature range. Water coolant loops are typically used to transport heat to or from the cabin of a crewed spacecraft via heat exchangers to the heat sink systems that reject the heat to space. Water is non-toxic and good for heat transport, but it has a high freeze point. Thus, there is concern that the water loop can freeze and damage the thermal control system unless a low-freeze-point intermediate fluid loop is included. Incorporating a freeze-tolerant water/ice heat exchanger can eliminate this risk, and offers a novel approach to spacecraft thermal control, since parts of the heat exchanger can be selectively frozen to passively increase the turndown of the heat rejection rate. In addition, it has the potential to simplify the thermal control system and thereby reduce its size and mass.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components, Downsizing, Water, Heat exchangers, Heat exchangers, Spacecraft
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Low-Power, Lightweight, Ultra-Compact Reverse Water Gas Shift Reactor

Utilizing CO2 to produce H2O and O2 is critical for sustained manned missions in space, and supports both NASA’s cabin Atmosphere Revitalization System (ARS) and ln-situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) concepts. For long-term missions beyond low Earth orbit where resupply of consumables is significantly more difficult and costly, open-loop ARS can reduce the effectiveness of consumables recovery. The Bosch process has the potential to achieve complete loop closure for 100% O2 recovery; however, it has several limitations, including reactor fouling and low single-pass efficiency. NASA MSFC has been developing an innovative Bosch system comprising a Reverse Water Gas Shift (RWGS) reactor and a downstream Carbon Formation reactor that would significantly improve the overall O2 recovery.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components, Carbon dioxide, Water, Life support systems, Research and development, Oxygen, Spacecraft
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