Lightweight Energy Absorbing Composite Airframe Subfloor
This technology's conusoidal geometry is based on right-side-up and up-side down halfcones placed in an alternating and repeating pattern. This geometry combines a simple cone design with a sinusoidal beam geometry to create a structure that utilizes the advantages of both designs. The first major advantage of the conusoidal design is it provides crush trigger mechanisms due to dissimilar conical radii dimensions on the crash front. This is consistent with many energy absorbing (EA) designs which contain trigger mechanisms to limit the peak crush load and achieve acceptable crush initiation behavior. Second, because the conical walls are formed at an inward angle relative to the geometric centerline of each cone, the crushing is self-stabilizing. Finally, as the graphic below shows, the dissimilar radii create an inherent forward leaning angle, which offers advantages when examining loading conditions with a multi-axial component of loading. Many potential materials and layup combinations were candidates for the fabrication of the conusoidal EA. Specific interest was given to both the conventional and hybrid families of woven fabrics. Hybrid material systems consisting of carbon and aramid fibers were considered for use since they would potentially contain desirable characteristics that would serve as an advantage for energy absorbing performance. These material systems would offer both stiffness characteristics from the carbon fibers and deformation/ductility characteristics from the aramid fibers.
Interim, In Situ Additive Manufacturing Inspection
The in situ inspection technology for additive manufacturing combines different types of cameras strategically placed around the part to monitor its properties during construction. The IR cameras collect accurate temperature data to validate thermal math models, while the visual cameras obtain highly detailed data at the exact location of the laser to build accurate, as-built geometric models. Furthermore, certain adopted techniques (e.g., single to grouped pixels comparison to avoid bad/biased pixels) reduce false positive readings. NASA has developed and tested prototypes in both laser-sintered plastic and metal processes. The technology detected errors due to stray powder sparking and material layer lifts. Furthermore, the technology has the potential to detect anomalies in the property profile that are caused by errors due to stress, power density issues, incomplete melting, voids, incomplete fill, and layer lift-up. Three-dimensional models of the printed parts were reconstructed using only the collected data, which demonstrates the success and potential of the technology to provide a deeper understanding of the laser-metal interactions. By monitoring the print, layer by layer, in real-time, users can pause the process and make corrections to the build as needed, reducing material, energy, and time wasted in nonconforming parts.
mechanical and fluid systems
Smallsat attitude control and energy storage
Reaction spheres technology operate on a physics similar to reaction wheels, which by the conservation of angular momentum uses a rotating flywheel to spin a body in the opposite direction. Sphere systems that utilize magnetic torqueing rather than mechanical are also smaller, are more reliable, have low friction losses, and have improved lifetime performance. The proposed reaction sphere provides improved performance over traditional wheels and satisfies the push for component miniaturization, increased pointing accuracy, and power efficiency on CubeSats. Primary aims are to develop a low-friction method to contain a sphere in spaceflight and determine the feasibility of on-orbit momentum storage to supplement battery power. With appropriate placement of permanent magnets, the sphere systems can generate relatively equal value of momentum and torques for any spin axis. This sphere at any speed, produces more momentum than the wheels, resulting in faster attitude stability.
power generation and storage
Internal Short Circuit Testing Device to Improve Battery Designs
Astronauts' lives depend on the safe performance and reliability of lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries when they are working and living on the International Space Station. These batteries are used to power everything such as communications systems, laptop computers, and breathing devices. Their reliance on safe use of Li-ion batteries led to the research and development of a new device that can more precisely trigger internal short circuits, predict reactions, and establish safeguards through the design of the battery cells and packs. Commercial applications for this device exist as well, as millions of cell phones, laptops, and electronic drive vehicles use Li-ion batteries every day. In helping manufacturers understand why and how Li-ion batteries overheat, this technology improves testing and quality control processes. The uniqueness of this device can be attributed to its simplicity. In a particular embodiment, it is comprised of a small copper and aluminum disc, a copper puck, polyethylene or polypropylene separator, and a layer of wax as thin as the diameter of one human hair. After implantation of the device in a cell, an internal short circuit is induced by exposing the cell to higher temperatures and melting the wax, which is then wicked away by the separator, cathode, and anode, leaving the remaining metal components to come into contact and induce an internal short. Sensors record the cell's reactions. Testing the battery response to the induced internal short provides a 100% reliable testing method to safely test battery containment designs for thermal runaway. This jointly developed and patented technology is available for your company to license and develop into a commercial product. NASA does not manufacture products for commercial sale.
mechanical and fluid systems
Micro scale electro hydrodynamic (EHD) modular cartridge pump
NASA GSFCs 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 addition, the lightweight pump consumes very little power during operation and is modular in nature. The pump design takes a modular approach to the pumping sections by means of an electrically insulating cartridge casing that houses the high voltage and ground electrodes along with spacers that act as both an insulator and flow channel for the dielectric fluid. The external electrical connections are accomplished by means of commercially available pin and jack assemblies that are configurable for a variety of application interfaces. It can be sized to work with small electric components or lab-on-a-chip devices and multiple pumps can be placed in line for pumping greater distances or used as a feeder system for smaller downstream pumps. All this is done as a one-piece construction consolidating an assembly of 21 components over previous iterations.
A Portable Impactor Device
The NASA impactor is a fully portable device that propels an instrumented projectile so that it impacts a vehicle, structural component, or test specimen. The device includes a projectile inside an exterior tube. The projectile itself contains a commercial load cell designed to obtain the dynamic force response during the impact event. Furthermore, a digital oscilloscope and optical sensor are combined to measure the velocity just prior to impact so that the impact energy of the projectile onto the test surface can be calculated. In the current configuration, impacts with energies between 4 and 40 J (between about 3 and 30 ft-lbs) are obtainable, and could be adjusted by changing the spring to one with a different spring constant. The tube can be handheld or rigidly mounted at any angle such that the impact response can be evaluated at specified positions throughout the test article. The impactor device is primarily designed for use on composite structures to investigate the structural response from a low-velocity impact, as composite materials are highly susceptible to damage from low-velocity impacts where the damage may not be visible but results in great loss of strength. If the damage cannot be detected visually, it can be seen through nondestructive testing (ultrasonic, flash thermography or X-ray). However, the device may also be used on structures to evaluate and tune structural health monitoring systems. The technology has been designed, prototyped, and implemented in four military or government programs for impact testing on metallic and composite structures, including a helicopter roof in 2013. The cost of the parts for the prototype was approximately $9,000. Production costs are expected to be lower.
Lower Chatter Friction Pull Plug Welding (FPPW)
The new friction pull plug design is optimized to reduce chatter that results as a fast rotating plug enters the hole in the part. The plug design is based on a shank with multiple frustoconical sections shown in the figure to the right. The sections are carefully sized to ensure that the spinning plug contacts the edge of the hole at just the right position to minimize chatter. It keeps the machine from stalling when the plug enters the hole. This new design makes FPPW more practical, perhaps even as a future rivet replacement.
power generation and storage
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.
Method of Non-Destructive Evaluation of Composites
Guided wavefield techniques require excitation of guided waves in a specimen via contact or noncontact methods (such as attached piezoelectric transducers or laser generation). The resulting wavefield is recorded via noncontact methods such as laser Doppler vibrometry or air-coupled ultrasound. If the specimen contains damage, the waves will interact with that damage, resulting in an altered wavefield (compared to the pristine case). When guided wave modes enter into a delaminated region of a composite the energy is split above/below delaminations and travels through the material between delaminations. Some of the energy propagates beyond the delamination and re-emerges as the original guided wave modes. However, a portion of the wave energy is trapped as standing waves between delaminations. The trapped waves slowly leak from the delaminated region, but energy remains trapped for some time after the incident waves have propagated beyond the damage region. Simulation results show changes in the trapped energy at the composite surface when additional delaminations exist through the composite thickness. The results are a preliminary proof-of-concept for utilizing trapped energy measurements to identify the presence of hidden delaminations when only single-sided access is available to a component/vehicle. Currently, no other single-sided field-applicable NDT techniques exist for identifying hidden delamination damage.
Power Generation and Storage
Novel, Solid-State Hybrid Ultracapacitor Battery
The subject technology is an extension of closely related, solid-state ultracapacitor innovations by the same team of inventors. The primary distinction for this specific technology is the addition of co-dopants to affect the dielectric behavior of the barium titanatebased perovskite materials. These co-dopants include lanthanum and other rare earths as well as hydroxyl ions. The materials are processed at the nano scale, and are subjected to carefully designed thermal treatments as well. The presence of the hydroxyl ions has been shown to provide several orders of magnitude increase in the capacitance of the dielectric material. Additionally, these high capacitance values are obtained at relatively low voltages found in current consumer and industrial electronics. The capacitors tested to date are simple, single-layer devices. Ultimately, a range of manufacturing methods are possible for making commercial devices. Features of the technology enable manufacturing via traditional thick-film processing methods widely used in the capacitor industry, or via advanced printing methods for state-of-the-art printed electronics. Future efforts will be made to advance the manufacturing and packaging processes to increase device energy density, including multilayer devices and packages