Materials and Coatings
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Carbonated Cement for Production of Concrete with Improved Properties
The NASA cement innovation describes a method to make solid carbon material from CO<sub>2</sub> captured during the cement-making process, and for using that carbon material in the mixture to improve cement properties. Doing so provides a direct use for the captured CO<sub>2</sub>, eliminating any CO<sub>2</sub> storage/disposal issues and providing an improved cement product. The innovation employs a chemical reaction, known as the Bosch process, which uses hydrogen gas and catalysis to reduce the CO<sub>2</sub> to solid carbon and water. Cement manufacturing is uniquely suited to the use of the Bosch process. Cement manufacturing requires high temperatures, and harnessing this excess heat limits the total energy required to maintain a Bosch process at a cement plant. Also, cement contains iron, a metal shown to be an exceptional catalyst for the Bosch process. Thus, the cement product itself can be used as the catalyst for the reaction, also serving as a carbon sink. This eliminates any requirements for the storage or disposal of the waste carbon captured from CO<sub>2</sub> emissions. Test evaluations at the bench scale have provided encouraging indications of enhanced mechanical properties for the carbon-containing cement materials. In particular, the findings suggest that the carbon in the concrete might delay the environmental breakdown of concrete due to the blocking effect of the carbon on harmful ions (e.g., chlorine).
power generation and storage
Solar Powered
Solar Powered Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Conversion
This technology consists of a photoelectrochemical cell composed of thin metal oxide films. It uses sunlight (primarily the ultraviolet (UV), visible and Infrared (IR) portions)) and inexpensive titanium dioxide composites to perform the reaction. The device can be used to capture carbon dioxide produced in industrial processes before it is emitted to the atmosphere and convert it to a useful fuel such as methane. These devices can be deployed to the commercial market with low manufacturing and materials costs. They can be made extremely compact and efficient and used in sensor and detector applications.
information technology and software
The Yellow Sea
MERRA/AS and Climate Analytics-as-a-Service (CAaaS)
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center now offers a new capability for meeting this Big Data challenge: MERRA Analytic Services (MERRA/AS). MERRA/AS combines the power of high-performance computing, storage-side analytics, and web APIs to dramatically improve customer access to MERRA data. It represents NASAs first effort to provide Climate Analytics-as-a-Service. Retrospective analyses (or reanalyses) such as MERRA have long been important to scientists doing climate change research. MERRA is produced by NASAs Global Modeling and Assimilation Office (GMAO), which is a component of the Earth Sciences Division in Goddards Sciences and Exploration Directorate. GMAOs research and development activities aim to maximize the impact of satellite observations in climate, weather, atmospheric, and land prediction using global models and data assimilation. These products are becoming increasingly important to application areas beyond traditional climate science. MERRA/AS provides a new cloud-based approach to storing and accessing the MERRA dataset. By combining high-performance computing, MapReduce analytics, and NASAs Climate Data Services API (CDS API), MERRA/AS moves much of the work traditionally done on the client side to the server side, close to the data and close to large compute power. This reduces the need for large data transfers and provides a platform to support complex server-side data analysesit enables Climate Analytics-as-a-Service. MERRA/AS currently implements a set of commonly used operations (such as avg, min, and max) over all the MERRA variables. Of particular interest to many applications is a core collection of about two dozen MERRA land variables (such as humidity, precipitation, evaporation, and temperature). Using the RESTful services of the Climate Data Services API, it is now easy to extract basic historical climatology information about places and time spans of interest anywhere in the world. Since the CDS API is extensible, the community can participate in MERRA/ASs development by contributing new and more complex analytics to the MERRA/AS service. MERRA/AS demonstrates the power of CAaaS and advances NASAs ability to connect data, science, computational resources, and expertise to the many customers and applications it serves.
power generation and storage
Battery Charge Equalizer System
Battery Charge Equalizer System
The innovation consists of a transformer array connected to a battery array through rectification and filtering circuits. The transformer array is connected to a drive circuit and a timing and control circuit, which enables individual battery cells or cell banks to be charged. The timing and control circuit connects to a charge controller that uses battery instrumentation to determine which battery bank to charge. The system is ultra lightweight because it uses much fewer than one transformer per battery cell. For instance, 40 battery cells can be balanced with an array of just five transformers. The innovation can charge an individual cell bank at the same time while the main battery charger is charging the high-voltage battery system. Conventional equalization techniques require complex and costly electrical circuitry to achieve cell monitoring and balancing. Further, such techniques waste the energy from the most charged cells through a dummy resistive load (regulator), which is inefficient and generates excess heat. In contrast, this system equalizes battery strings by selectively charging cells that need it. The technology maintains battery state-of-charge to improve battery life and performance. In addition, the technology provides a fail-safe operation and a novel built-in electrical isolation for the main charge circuit, further improving the safety of high-voltage Li-ion batteries.
power generation and storage
Optical Fiber for Solar Cells
Optimum Solar Conversion Cell Configurations
A solar cell manufactured from this new optical fiber has photovoltaic (PV) material integrated into the fiber to enable electricity generation from unused light, including non-visible portions of the spectrum and visible light not transmitted to a lighting application. These new solar cells are based around cylindrical optical fibers, providing two distinct advantages over the flat panels that lead to increased efficiency. The core fiber, used to transmit light, can be adjusted to increase or decrease the amount of available light that is transmitted to the lighting application at any point in real time. This invention can be applied wherever optical concentrators are used to collect and redirect incident light. Wavelengths as large as 780 nanometers (nm) can be used to drive the conversion process. This technology has very low operating costs and environmental impacts (in particular, no greenhouse gas emissions). The fiber uses low-cost polymer materials. It is lightweight and flexible, and can be manufactured using low-cost solution processing techniques. Such multifunctional materials have great potential for the future of solar and photovoltaic devices. They will enable new devices that are small and lightweight that can be used without connection to existing electrical grids.
power generation and storage
Battery Management System
Battery Management System
The technology is comprised of a simple and reliable circuit that detects a single bad cell within a battery pack of hundreds of cells and it can monitor and balance the charge of individual cells in series. NASA's BMS is cost effective and can enhance safety and extend the life of critical battery systems, including high-voltage Li-ion batteries that are used in electric vehicles and other next-generation renewable energy applications. The BMS uses saturating transformers in a matrix arrangement to monitor cell voltage and balance the charge of individual battery cells that are in series within a battery string. The system includes a monitoring array and a voltage sensing and balancing system that integrates simply and efficiently with the battery cell array, limiting the number of pins and the complexity of circuitry in the battery. The arrangement has inherent galvanic isolation, low cell leakage currents, and allows a single bad or imbalanced cell in a series of several hundred to be identified. Cell balancing in multi-cell battery strings compensates for weaker cells by equalizing the charge on all the cells in the chain, thus extending battery life. Voltage sensing helps avoid damage from over-voltage that can occur during charging and from under-voltage that can occur through excessive discharging.
OMEGA System
Algae Photobioreactor Using Floating Enclosures With Semi-Permeable Membranes
The photobioreactors allow light to enter through their transparent upper surface and optimizes the efficiency of light utilization with a light-reflective lower surface inside. Deployed in the marine environment, the gradient between the freshwater inside the system and the saltwater outside drives forward osmosis. The water removed through semi-permeable (forward osmosis) membranes is cleaned as it is released into the marine environment. In addition, this process concentrates nutrients in the algae medium to stimulate growth, and concentrates the algae to facilitate harvesting. The harvested algae can be used to make biofuels, fertilizer, animal food, or other products. The photobioreactors are intended for use in naturally or artificially protected marine environments with small waves and gentle currents. The system can also be used in artificial brine pools and freshwater basins or reservoirs, however in freshwater the forward osmosis feature cannot be used.
power generation and storage
Space Station
High-Efficiency Solar Cell
This NASA Glenn innovation is a novel multi-junction photovoltaic cell constructed using selenium as a bonding material sandwiched between a thin film multi-junction wafer and a silicon substrate wafer, enabling higher efficiencies. A multi-junction photovoltaic cell differs from a single junction cell in that it has multiple sub-cells (p-n junctions) and can convert more of the sun's energy into electricity as the light passes through each layer. To further improve the efficiencies, this cell has three junctions, where the top wafer is made from high solar energy absorbing materials that form a two-junction cell made from the III-V semiconductor family, and the bottom substrate remains as a simple silicon wafer. The selenium interlayer is applied between the top and bottom wafers, then pressure annealed at 221&deg;C (the melting temperature of selenium), then cooled. The selenium interlayer acts as a connective layer between the top cell that absorbs the short-wavelength light and the bottom silicon-based cell that absorbs the longer wavelengths. The three-junction solar cell manufactured using selenium as the transparent interlayer has a higher efficiency, converting more than twice the energy into electricity than traditional cells. To obtain even higher efficiencies of over 40%, both the top and bottom layers can be multi-junction solar cells with the selenium layer sandwiched in between. The resultant high performance multi-junction photovoltaic cell with the selenium interlayer provides more power per unit area while utilizing a low-cost silicon-based substrate. This unprecedented combination of increased efficiency and cost savings has considerable commercial potential. This is an early-stage technology requiring additional development. Glenn welcomes co-development opportunities.
electrical and electronics
Metal Oxide-Vertical Graphene Hybrid Supercapacitors
The electrodes are soaked in electrolyte, separated by a separator membrane and packaged into a cell assembly to form an electrochemical double layer supercapacitor. Its capacitance can be enhanced by a redox capacitance contribution through additional metal oxide to the porous structure of vertical graphene or coating the vertical graphene with an electrically conducting polymer. Vertical graphene offers high surface area and porosity and does not necessarily have to be grown in a single layer and can consist of two to ten layers. A variety of collector metals can be used, such as silicon, nickel, titanium, copper, germanium, tungsten, tantalum, molybdenum, & stainless steel. Supercapacitors are superior to batteries in that they can provide high power density (in units of kw/kg) and the ability to charge and discharge in a matter of seconds. Aside from its excellent power density, a supercapacitor also has a longer life cycle and can undergo many more charging sequences in its lifespan than batteries. This long life cycle means that supercapacitors last for longer periods of times, which alleviates environmental concerns associated with the disposal of batteries.
electrical and electronics
Self-Healing Wire Insulation
Self-Healing Wire Insulation
Insulation is necessary on electrical wires in order to protect electrical systems from shorting. In high voltage systems such shorting can lead to sparking and fires. Many lives have been lost due to electrical wire insulation failure. Many man hours are also expended in the repair and inspection of electrical wiring in order to attempt to prevent wire failure. Wire insulation with a built in "self-healing" capability would greatly improve the safety of systems containing electrical wiring. Such insulation would require far less inspection and repair time over the lifetime of the system. Polyimides such as Kapton are an integral part of high performance electrical wire insulation. Traditional polyimides are very inert to solvents and do not melt. A new set of polyimides, developed for use as films for the manual repair of high performance electrical wire insulation, have a low melting point and can be dissolved in special solvents. These properties can be taken advantage of in self-healing polyimide films. Microcapsules containing a solvent soluble polyimide are prepared using industry standard inter-facial or in situ polymerization techniques. These capsules are then incorporated into a low melt polyimide film for use as either a primary electrical wire insulation or as one of several layers of a composite wire insulation. The low melt polyimide film substrate in which the microcapsules are incorporated has good solubility with the solvent used to dissolve the polyimide which makes up the fluid inside the microcapsule. Such a capsule filled insulation, when cut or otherwise damaged, will result in the release of the capsule contents into the cut or damage area. The solvent then dissolves a small amount of the surrounding polyimide insulation but will also begin the process of evaporation. The combination of these two processes allows for excellent intermingling of the healant and the surrounding substrate, resulting in a repair with superior bonding and physical properties.
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