NASA Brings Transportation Solutions to Industry

The future of transportation lies in technology and innovation, and NASA research is addressing some of the most complicated challenges being presented. To ensure that NASA’s aircraft reach new heights in safety and optimization, several tools have been developed to improve fuel efficiency, structural integrity, and precision in the assembly of vehicles. These technologies can often be applied across the entire transportation sector, including rail, automotive, marine, and air. Below, we’ve highlighted a few NASA inventions with strong commercial potential in the transportation industry.

Gear bearings bring benefits greater than the sum of their parts - with lowered costs too

Gears and bearings are ubiquitous in vehicles, power tools, machinery, and even motorized toys. NASA researchers have developed a technology that is ripe to replace individual gears and bearings in applications across a variety of industries. By combining gear and bearing functions into a single unit, the design improves load capacity and performance while also reducing weight, number of parts, size, and cost. The new technology could be implemented across the transportation sector, including in automotive transmissions, aircraft engine and propeller systems, and rail switching systems.

Fine-tune crane control with pneumatic soft spring technology 

Traditional motor-driven overhead cranes and rigging devices tend to lack fine control in the placement of heavy objects. These systems often depend heavily on user manipulation, which can result in mistakes that lead to structural damage. Because spacecraft require precision in assembly, NASA created a device that utilizes a pneumatically adjustable soft spring into the lift rigging of a crane. This design allows for minimized user interaction and is based on commercially available components that can be optimized for different weight requirements. The technology is suitable for shipbuilding, railway construction, and aircraft manufacturing.

Liquefied gases mean more energy with less hassle

Storage and transfer of fluid commodities such as oxygen, hydrogen, natural gas, nitrogen, argon, etc. is an absolute necessity in virtually every industry on Earth, especially in the transportation sector. More energy storage, smaller volume, and faster discharge are the primary benefits of NASA’s Cryogenic Flux Capacitors (CFC). Storing liquefied fluid gasses in tightly packed aerogel composites allows the fluids to be packed more densely and requires less delicate pressure densities than current high-pressured gas vessels. The addition of an integrated conductive membrane throughout the CFC container also allows for rapid heating and cooling to discharge and recharge the energy on-demand.

These are just a few examples of NASA technologies available for licensing. To browse NASA’s entire portfolio, please click here.

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