Mechanical & Fluid Systems

Access our comprehensive library of technical briefs on mechanical and fluid systems, from engineering experts at NASA and government, university, and commercial laboratories.

Briefs : Motion Control
Transforming Flat Elastomers into 3D Shapes

Mechanical systems such as engines and motors rely on two principal types of motions of stiff components: linear motion, which involves an object moving from one point to another in a straight...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Multimaterial 3D Printing Used to Develop Fast-Response, Stiffness-Tunable, Soft Actuator

Fast-response, stiffness-tunable (FRST) soft actuators — or movable machine elements — were developed that could be used in soft robots.

Briefs : Transportation
Self-Lubrication Improves Standard Braking Systems

By mixing carbon fibers into polymer-based brakes, researchers designed brakes that are self-lubricating. These new and improved brakes can prevent wear-and-tear and have better frictional...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Material Captures and Removes Toxic Atmospheric Gas

A metal-organic framework (MOF) material was developed that exhibits a selective, fully reversible, and repeatable capability to remove nitrogen dioxide gas from the atmosphere in ambient...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Achieving Carbon Footprint Reduction with Flywheel Technology

Recent technical advances have enabled flywheel energy storage systems (FESS) to become more compact and able to support higher-power applications. Due to their proven...

Briefs : Aerospace
In-Situ Selective Reinforcement of Near-Net-Shape Formed Structures

NASA’s Langley Research Center has developed a method in which a metal matrix composite (MMC) material is incorporated into a metallic structure during a one-step...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
System Enables Direct Data Transmission Between Underwater and Airborne Devices

Today, underwater sensors cannot share data with those on land, as both use different wireless signals that only work in their respective mediums. Radio signals that travel through air die very rapidly in water. Acoustic signals, or sonar, sent by underwater devices...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Pre-Treatment Solution for Water Recovery

The Pre-Treatment Solution for Water Recovery technology was developed by NASA Johnson Space Center innovators to increase the amount of potable water recovered from the International Space Station’s urine processor assembly system. The solution increased the water recovery rate in the ISS distiller...

Briefs : Nanotechnology
Smart Microrobots Adapt to Surroundings

Researchers, drawing inspiration from bacteria, have designed smart, bio-compatible microrobots that are highly flexible. Because these devices are able to swim through fluids and modify their shape...

Briefs : Materials
Self-Healing, Fluid-Inspired Material

Even tiny cracks can cause bridges to collapse, pipelines to rupture, and fuselages to detach from airplanes due to hard-to-detect corrosion in tiny cracks, scratches, and dents. A new coating strategy for metal self-heals within seconds when scratched, scraped, or cracked. The novel material could prevent...

Briefs : Materials
Synthesizing Renewable Oils for Use in Lubricants

Industrial machinery, agricultural equipment, transportation vessels, and home applications depend on lubricants; however, they leave a heavy environmental footprint. Common lubricants, oils,...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Graphene's Magic Is in the Defects

A team of researchers at the New York University Tandon School of Engineering and NYU Center for Neural Science has solved a longstanding puzzle of how to build ultra-sensitive, ultra-small, electrochemical...

Briefs : Transportation
Precision Low-Speed Motor Controller

Innovators at NASA Johnson Space Center have developed a method for controlling precise motion of a brushless DC (BLDC) motor using relatively inexpensive components. Precision motors are usually quite expensive and inefficient when operating at slow speeds. Current motors are only capable of operating at...

Briefs : Aerospace
Flexible, Spinning Heat Shield for Spacecraft

Heat shields are essentially used as the brakes to stop spacecraft from burning up and crashing on entry and reentry into a planet's atmosphere. Current spacecraft heat shield methods include...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
High-Power Thermoelectric Generator

Objects in our daily lives, such as speakers, refrigerators, and even cars, are becoming “smarter” day by day as they connect to the Internet and exchange data, creating the Internet of Things (IoT)....

Briefs : Communications
MEMS Switch Extends Life of Cellphones

A new type of microelectromechanical system (MEMS) was developed that uses electrostatic levitation to provide a more robust system. All cellphones use MEMS switches for wireless communication, but traditionally there are just two electrodes. The switches open and close numerous times during just one hour,...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
System Selectively Sequesters Toxins from Water

Traditional methods, such as reverse osmosis, that remove contaminants from water are expensive and energy-intensive. Researchers have developed technology to remove contaminants from water,...

Briefs : Propulsion
Sublimable Propellant Source for Iodine-Fed Ion Propulsion System

NASA Marshall has developed a system for generating iodine vapor from solid iodine for use as a propellant in a Hall or ion thruster propulsion system. Xenon has generally been the preferred propellant for these spacecraft ion propulsion systems but more recently, iodine-based...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Composite Advances Lignin as Renewable 3D Printing Material

Lignin is the material left over from the processing of biomass. It gives plants rigidity and also makes biomass resistant to being broken down into useful products. Researchers combined a melt-stable hardwood lignin with conventional plastic, a low-melting nylon, and carbon fiber to...

Briefs : Nanotechnology
Nanoscale Pillars Act as Memory Foam

A customizable nanomaterial was developed that combines metallic strength with a foam-like ability to compress and spring back. The material can store and release mechanical energy on the nanoscale, and...

Briefs : Motion Control
Computer-Controlled Exercise Equipment

While a wide variety of computer-controlled exercise machines for training and rehabilitation exist — some of which can be automatically adjusted to vary resistance or incline — such systems provide for preprogrammed changes in load or resistance. What is needed is a system that overcomes the...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
A Marriage of Light-Manipulation Technologies

Researchers have, for the first time, integrated two technologies widely used in applications such as optical communications, bio-imaging, and Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) systems. In the...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Researchers Combine Metalens With an Artificial Muscle

Inspired by the human eye, researchers at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have developed an adaptive metalens that is essentially a flat,...

Briefs : Materials
X-Ray Study of Low-Density Materials

It's hard to get an X-ray image of low-density material like tissue between bones because X-rays just pass right through like sunlight through a window. Sandia studies myriads of low-density materials,...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Optimal Computational Vision Pipeline (OCVP)

Optimal Computational Vision Pipeline (OCVP) software uses a novel algorithm that allows overlapping point clouds obtained from sensors with displaced position and orientation to be fused together in a common coordinate system with a rigorously linear solution for position and orientation parameters;...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Thermal-Compensating Optics Housing

Existing optics mounts sandwich the optic axially between two metal components, which can lead to optical surface damage and misalignment when exposed to fluctuating temperatures. Thermal-compensating...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Printing Technology Uses Sound Waves to Control Size of Liquid Droplets

Liquid droplets are used in many applications, from printing ink on paper to creating microcapsules for drug delivery. Inkjet printing is the most common technique used...

Briefs : Automotive
Resin Transfer Molding (RTM) 370 Resin for High-Temperature Applications

RTM370 imide resin was developed to address the limitations of conventional imide resins, which are generated from commercially available symmetrical biphenyl...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Micro-Robot Climbs on Vertical and Upside-Down Conductive Surfaces

Jet engines can have up to 25,000 individual parts, making regular maintenance a tedious task that can take more than a month per engine. Many components are located deep...

Briefs : Medical
Foot Pedal Controller

A novel foot-pedal-operated system and device were developed to control translational and rotational movement of an object in three-dimensional (3D) space. The Foot Pedal Controller system enables operators to control...

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