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
New Piston Design Features Soft, Flexible Materials
New Piston Design Features Soft, Flexible Materials

Conventional pistons are made of a rigid chamber and a piston inside that can slide along the chamber’s inner wall while at the same time maintaining a tight seal. As a result, the piston...

New Piston Design Features Soft, Flexible Materials
Motion Design : Robotics, Automation & Control
Hybrid Robot Flies, Creeps, and Leaps Off Buildings
Hybrid Robot Flies, Creeps, and Leaps Off Buildings

There is great potential in using both drones and ground-based robots for situations like disaster response, but generally these platforms either fly or creep along the ground. The flying...

Hybrid Robot Flies, Creeps, and Leaps Off Buildings
Briefs : Energy
Cryogenic Hydraulically Actuated Isolation Valve

Researchers at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center have developed a cryogenic isolation valve that utilizes the upstream line pressure of cryogenic fluids for actuation. Previously, the use of cryogenic fluids for actuation systems had been too difficult to control and resulted in unsafe operating...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Nitinol-Actuated, Normally Open Valve Assembly (NOVA)

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...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Organic Semiconductor Thin-Film Sensors Detect Disease Markers in Breath
Organic Semiconductor Thin-Film Sensors Detect Disease Markers in Breath

Organic semiconductors (OSCs) have emerged as a new class of electronic materials promising a wide range of applications including organic field-effect transistors...

Organic Semiconductor Thin-Film Sensors Detect Disease Markers in Breath
Briefs : Defense
Endovascular Variable Aortic Control Catheter
Endovascular Variable Aortic Control Catheter

The Air Force has developed improved devices for hemostatic management of patients with life-threatening blood loss from an arterial wound or surgery. Current aortic occlusion devices...

Endovascular Variable Aortic Control Catheter
Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Method Uses Ultraviolet Light to Control Fluid Flow and Organize Particles
Method Uses Ultraviolet Light to Control Fluid Flow and Organize Particles

A new method uses ultraviolet light to control the flow of fluids by encouraging particles — from plastic microbeads, to bacterial spores, to pollutants — to...

Method Uses Ultraviolet Light to Control Fluid Flow and Organize Particles
Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Nickel Titanium Alloy Ball Bearings
Nickel Titanium Alloy Ball Bearings

Innovators at NASA's Glenn Research Center have developed a new method for making small-diameter, high-grade ball bearings that are less than 0.25” in diameter thanks to the development of a new alloy...

Nickel Titanium Alloy Ball Bearings
Briefs : Materials
Lunar Surface Manipulation System
Lunar Surface Manipulation System

NASA's Langley Research Center offers a novel lifting and precision positioning device with hybrid functional characteristics of both crane-type lifting devices and robotic manipulators. The design of the...

Lunar Surface Manipulation System
Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Light-Activated Micro-Pump
Light-Activated Micro-Pump

Even the smallest mechanical pumps have limitations, from the micro-fabrication techniques required to make them to the fact that there are limits on their size. A laser-driven photoacoustic microfluidic pump was...

Light-Activated Micro-Pump
Briefs : Aerospace
Microscale Electro-Hydrodynamic (EHD) Modular Cartridge Pump

The EHD pump uses electric fields to move a dielectric fluid coolant in a thermal loop to dissipate heat generated by electrical components with a low-power system. The pump has only a few key components and no moving parts, increasing the simplicity and robustness of the system. In...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Deployable Emergency Shutoff Device Blocks High-Velocity Fluid Flows

NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center has developed a device and method for blocking the flow of fluid from an open pipe. The device plugs, controls, and meters the flow of gases and liquids. Anchored with friction fittings, spikes, or explosively activated fasteners, the device...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Wearable Liquid Unit Harvests Energy
Wearable Liquid Unit Harvests Energy

Researchers have created wearable technology to convert mechanical energy into electrical energy. It presents a step toward the practical realization of self-powered, human-integrated technologies.

Wearable Liquid Unit Harvests Energy
Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Combustion Gas Heat Exchanger
Combustion Gas Heat Exchanger

Two very challenging problems facing the U.S. and the world are energy security and global climate change, largely due to dependence on fossil fuels. Cost-effective technologies have been developed that are...

Combustion Gas Heat Exchanger
Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Technique Identifies Electricity-Producing Bacteria
Technique Identifies Electricity-Producing Bacteria

Certain species of bacteria that exist in oxygen-deprived environments must find a way to breathe that doesn't involve oxygen. These microbes — which can be found deep within mines, at...

Technique Identifies Electricity-Producing Bacteria
Briefs : Imaging
Visualizing Motion of Water Molecules for Liquid-Based Electronics

A high-resolution inelastic x-ray scattering technique was used to measure the strong bond involving a hydrogen atom sandwiched between two oxygen atoms. This hydrogen bond is a quantum-mechanical phenomenon responsible for various properties of water, including viscosity, that...

Briefs : Imaging
Automated Object Detection in an Image

Recent developments in machine vision have demonstrated remarkable improvements in the ability of computers to properly identify objects in a viewing field. Most of these advances rely on color-texture analyses that require target objects to possess one or more highly distinctive, local features that can be...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
3D Printing of Flexible Circuits

A process was developed for 3D printing that can be used to produce transparent and mechanically flexible electronic circuits. The electronics consist of a mesh of silver nanowires that can be printed in suspension and embedded in various flexible and transparent plastics (polymers). This technology can enable...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Wafer-Level Microchannel Fabrication Process for Lab-on-a-Chip Devices
Wafer-Level Microchannel Fabrication Process for Lab-on-a-Chip Devices

Microchannels fabricated into a silicon-Pyrex wafer with a diameter of 75 m and total channel length of 40, 60, 80, or 100 mm — characterized by specialized microbeads...

Wafer-Level Microchannel Fabrication Process for Lab-on-a-Chip Devices
Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Snake-Inspired Robot
Snake-Inspired Robot

Researchers have developed a new and improved snake-inspired soft robot that is faster and more precise than its predecessor.

Snake-Inspired Robot
Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Calculating the Estimated Fatigue Life of a Disc Spring
Calculating the Estimated Fatigue Life of a Disc Spring

In discussing fatigue life, it is important to distinguish between disc springs and conical spring washers, as they differ by design and intended usage. Conical spring washers are...

Calculating the Estimated Fatigue Life of a Disc Spring
Motion Design : Electronics & Computers
Ultra-Low-Power Chips Enhance Performance of Small Robots
Ultra-Low-Power Chips Enhance Performance of Small Robots

An ultra-low-power hybrid chip inspired by the brain could help give palm-sized robots the ability to collaborate and learn from their experiences. Combined with new generations of...

Ultra-Low-Power Chips Enhance Performance of Small Robots
Briefs : Aerospace
Gear Bearings
Gear Bearings

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center developed gear bearing technology that combines gear and bearing functions into a single unit that significantly improves gear drives for electrical, internal combustion, and turbine motors. The...

Gear Bearings
Briefs : IoMT
New Electromyography Biofeedback Device
New Electromyography Biofeedback Device

Anew electromyography biofeedback device that is wearable and connects to novel smartphone games may offer people with incomplete paraplegia a more affordable, self-controllable therapy to enhance...

New Electromyography Biofeedback Device
Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Cryogenic Cam Butterfly Valve
Cryogenic Cam Butterfly Valve

Typical butterfly valves cannot seal at both ambient and cryogenic temperatures. At cryogenic temperatures, valves grow and shrink, changing critical dimensions such as distance between the disc and seat....

Cryogenic Cam Butterfly Valve
Briefs : Semiconductors & ICs
Vascular Injury Shunt

Extremity vascular injury results in bleeding and lack of blood flow beyond the site of vessel disruption (ischemia). Priorities when this occurs include hemorrhage control, management of life-threatening injuries, and restoration of flow to the extremity. While definitive vessel repair is optimal, life-threatening injuries...

Briefs : Nanotechnology
Wood-Based Technology Creates Electricity from Heat

Researchers have transformed a piece of wood into a flexible membrane that generates energy from the same type of electric current (ions) on which the human body runs. This energy is generated using charged channel walls and other unique properties of the wood’s natural nanostructures. With...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Generating Electrical Power from Waste Heat
Generating Electrical Power from Waste Heat

Directly converting electrical power to heat is easy; however, converting heat into electrical power is not as easy. To address this issue, a tiny silicon-based device was developed that can...

Generating Electrical Power from Waste Heat
Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Joining Gun Bonds Metal and Plastic in Seconds
Joining Gun Bonds Metal and Plastic in Seconds

The connection of plastics and metals poses a challenge due to the different physical properties of the two materials. All conventional joining options, such as bonds using adhesives or rivets,...

Joining Gun Bonds Metal and Plastic in Seconds
Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Smart, Soft, Back Orthosis Uses Real-Time Motion Detection

Back pain is inevitable with constrained posture over a number of hours. Permanent damage such as premature spine wear is not uncommon in people who do not adopt proper ergonomic posture. The same applies to those who frequently lift heavy objects.