Tech Briefs

Expert in A Suitcase Cuts Power Bills 10% In Small Commercial Buildings

The Sensor Suitcase is a portable case that contains easy-to-use sensors and other equipment that make it possible for anyone to identify energy-saving opportunities in small commercial buildings. The automated and reusable system combines hardware and software in one package so its users can identify cost-effective measures that can save small commercial buildings about 10 percent on their energy bills. It helps someone with minimal training collect and automatically process building data, which the system uses to generate specific recommendations to improve energy efficiency.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors
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Clean Water with Sandia Sensor Solution

Water utilities have a Goldilocks problem: If they don't add enough chlorine, nasty bacteria that cause typhoid and cholera survive the purification process. Too much chlorine produces disinfection byproducts such as chloroform, which increase cancer risks. The amount of chlorine needs to be “just right” for safe drinking water.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors
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Project Helps Provide More Precise Detection and Understanding of Seismic Activity In Oklahoma

Induced seismicity is earthquake activity that occurs because of changes in subsurface stress brought about by human activity. Using geology, geophysics, reservoir modeling, and rock mechanics to develop assessment models, this project evaluated the potential for, and increase in, seismic activity in central Oklahoma, including the relationship between oil and gas operations and induced seismicity. The study confirmed and more fully investigated the link between increased seismic activity and wastewater disposal, which significantly increased between July 1, 2014, and the end of 2015. Over the course of the study, more than 95 percent of the earthquakes in Oklahoma occurred in a small portion of the state, where about 70 percent of wastewater was injected.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors
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Flying Metal Detectors?

Scientists have demonstrated a new way to detect buried and submerged mines. Data is collected by sensors aboard an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). The information can then be used to create images to display locations of submerged mines on a device such as an Android. The system was demonstrated by successfully identifying a submerged dummy mine and differentiating it from surrounding debris.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors
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Printed Sensors Monitor Tire Wear in Real Time

Electrical engineers at Duke University have invented an inexpensive printed sensor that can monitor the tread of car tires in real time, warning drivers when the rubber meeting the road has grown dangerously thin. If adopted, the device will increase safety, improve vehicle performance, and reduce fuel consumption.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors
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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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Software Suite for Identifying Suspicious Individuals

It can be very useful to know about activities among individuals; for example, which individuals are associated with other individuals? When two or more individuals get together, is there an intended purpose? Who are the leaders or important individuals of a group? What is the organizational structure of the group? It can prove useful to have the capability to actually model the above types of interactions and associations. To an extent, this type of social research has been addressed by employing the disciplines of data mining and community generation.

Posted in: Briefs, Software, Big data, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Security systems, Big data, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Security systems, Identification
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Inflatable Airlock Technologies

An airlock used in space can provide the ability to leave a pressurized volume and enter free space. This is necessary to perform maintenance or make repairs to the pressurized volume or visiting spacecraft, construct or repair structures or devices, tend in-space experiments, etc. The airlock is used to provide the transition between internal pressurized volume, i.e. a shirtsleeve environment, and space. Current state-of-the-art units on the Space Station are rigid systems consisting of massive pressure vessels, hatches, and seals. Past efforts have investigated fabric-based ways of forming the airlock pressure volume, but all have used a more traditional metallic or composite door or hatch, which are heavy and difficult to package into a small volume. The need exists for an airlock, pressure vessel, and opening that are lightweight and can be packaged efficiently.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components, Research and development, Fabrics, Gases, Spacecraft
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Nanowire “Inks” for Paper-Based Printable Electronics

Printed electronics must be heated to melt all the nanoparticles together into a single conductive wire, making it impossible to print circuits on inexpensive plastics or paper. A study shows that tweaking the shape of the nanoparticles in the ink could eliminate the need for heat.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Electronic equipment, Electronic equipment, Additive manufacturing, Conductivity
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