food packaging

sensors
Hermetic Seal Leak Detection
Hermetic Seal Leak Detection
How it works An hermetically sealed item is placed in the leak detection system chamber and the device is activated while the resulting pressure is monitored by a data collection system. Any large leak present is immediately indicated by the data system pressure response. For very small leaks, the system monitors the leak rate over time and can vary set points to greatly speed the leak rate determination. The system is sensitive enough to detect a container leak of 10<sup>-6</sup>cc/sec in less than a minute and multiple test units can be tested in parallel. The leak detection system chamber can be of any size or shape to accommodate any type of sealed object. Why it is better The technology offers a highly sensitive method of detecting leaks in hermetic seals (i.e., airtight seals) that is more streamlined and lower in cost than other available methods with similar sensitivity. The most accurate traditional method involves pressurizing the hermetic seal device with helium, placing the device in a vacuum bell jar, and using a mass spectrometer to determine if any of the helium leaks from inside the device. This process is expensive, time consuming, and complicated. By contrast, Marshalls innovation uses very few parts and does not require any specialized equipment or pressurized gasses, minimizing the required maintenance and overall cost of operation. While mass spectrometry offers highly sensitive detection, the technology is relatively expensive. Less expensive methods do not offer the level of sensitivity needed for many applications such as automotive components, pharmaceuticals, or consumer goods packaging. The subject technology provides a solution to this sensitivity/price gap by offering high sensitivity at a significantly lower cost, as demonstrated by testing on the Space Shuttle solid rocket booster pressure sensors.
communications
Person taking inventory
Smart Enclosure using RFID for Inventory Tracking
The smart enclosure innovation employs traditional RFID cavities, resonators, and filters to provide standing electromagnetic waves within the enclosed volume in order to provide a pervasive field distribution of energy. A high level of read accuracy is achieved by using the contained electromagnetic field levels within the smart enclosure. With this method, more item level tags are successfully identified compared to approaches in which the items are radiated by an incident plane wave. The use of contained electromagnetic fields reduces the cost of the tag antenna; making it cost-effective to tag smaller items. RFID-enabled conductive enclosures have been previously developed, but did not employ specific cavity-design techniques to optimize performance within the enclosure. Also, specific cavity feed approaches provide much better distribution of fields for higher read accuracy. This technology does not restrict the enclosure surface to rectangular or cylindrical shapes; other enclosure forms can also be used. For example, the technology has been demonstrated in textiles such as duffle bags and backpacks. Potential commercial applications include inventory tracking for containers such as waste receptacles, storage containers, and conveyor belts used in grocery checkout stations.
materials and coatings
A small sample of Layered Composite Insulation (LCX)
Layered Composite Insulation for Extreme Conditions (LCX)
The approach in developing the LCX system was to provide a combination of advantages in thermal performance, structural capability, and operations. The system is particularly suited for the complex piping, tanks, and apparatus subjected to the ambient environment common in the aerospace industry. The low-cost approach also lends the same technology to industrial applications such as building construction and chilled-water piping. The system can increase reliability and reduce life cycle costs by mitigating moisture intrusion and preventing the resulting corrosion that plagues subambient-temperature insulation systems operating in the ambient (humidity and rain) environment. Accumulated internal water is allowed to drain and release naturally over the systems normal thermal cycles. The thermal insulation system has a long life expectancy because all layer materials are hydrophobic or otherwise waterproof. LCX systems do not need to be perfectly sealed to handle rain, moisture accumulation, or condensation. Mechanically, the LCX system not only withstands impact, vibration, and the stresses of thermal expansion and contraction, but can help support pipes and other structures, all while maintaining its thermal insulation effectiveness. Conventional insulation systems are notoriously difficult to manage around pipe supports because of the cracking and damage that can occur. Used alone or inside another structure or panel, the LCX layering approach can be tailored to provide additional acoustic or vibration damping as a dual function with the thermal insulating benefits. Because LCX systems do not require complete sealing from the weather, it costs less to install. The materials are generally removable, reusable, and recyclable, a feature not possible with other insulation systems. This feature allows removable insulation covers for valves, flanges, and other components (invaluable benefits for servicing or inspection) to be part of original designs. Thermal performance of the LCX system has been shown to equal or exceed that of the best polyurethane foam systems, which can degrade significantly during the first two years of operation. With its inherent springiness, the system allows for simpler installation and, more importantly, better thermal insulation because of its consistency and full contact with the cold surface. Improved contact with the cold surface and better closure of gaps and seams are the keys to superior thermal performance in real systems. Eliminating the requirement for glues, sealants, mastics, expansion joints, and vapor barriers provides dramatic savings in material and labor costs of the installed system.
sensors
A collage of applications
Handheld Spectrometer
The Fresnel spectrometer was built by adding a Fresnel grating onto a tiny sensor array micro-chip. As shown in Figure 1d, a half linear Fresnel grating was mounted vertically on one end of a linear imaging sensor. The Fresnel spectrometer uses a gradient line grating with changing gaps and widths as shown. The angle between the imaging detector surface and the grating is 90 degrees. The resolution of the current iteration is 20nm with a spectral range of 200nm ~ 1200nm. Resolution is dependent on the number of gratings. If the number of gratings approaches 200 the resolution would be less than 5nm, theoretically. Figure 1c shows an actual photo of the linear imaging sensor array chip (Hamamatsu S8378-256Q) that became a platform for building the first prototype linear Fresnel spectrometer. This chip has 256 active pixels in 25 m pitch and 0.5 mm height, spectral response range of 200 to 1,000 nm, and maximum operating clock frequency of 500 kHz. Instead of building a spectrometer by putting a detector into a box, NASA built the spectrometer onto the detector chip itself. NASA has developed a technology demonstrator of the basic spectrometer. In addition to the spectrometer, NASA has a software algorithm to acquire spectrum data and convert it to actionable information.
materials and coatings
Aerofoam
Aerofoam
The Aerofoam composites have superior thermal and acoustic insulation properties when compared to conventional polyimide foams. In addition, they provide greater structural integrity than the fragile aerogel materials can provide independently. In general, polymer foams can provide excellent thermal insulation, and polyimide foams have the additional advantage of excellent high-temperature behavior and flame resistance compared to other polymer systems (they do not burn or release noxious chemicals). Incorporating aerogel material into the polyimide foam as described by this technology creates a composite that has been demonstrated to provide additional performance gains, including 25% lower thermal conductivity with no compromise of the structural integrity and high-temperature behavior of the base polyimide foam. The structural properties of Aerofoam are variable based on its formulation, and it can be used in numerous rigid and flexible foams of varying densities. Aerofoam has a number of potential commercial applications, including construction, consumer appliances, transportation, electronics, healthcare, and industrial equipment. In addition, these high-performance materials may prove useful in applications that require insulation that can withstand harsh environments, including process piping, tanks for transporting and storing hot or cold fluids, ship and boat building, and aerospace applications.
mechanical and fluid systems
Green Precision Cleaning
Green Precision Cleaning
NASA's Precision Green Cleaning invention was developed to clean flight tubing. The technology has potential to be useful to industries where IPA is commonly used to clean tubing and piping, or potentially where other water-cleaning applications are used. Such industries may include Aerospace, Pharmaceutical, Bioprocessing, and Food and Beverage. Precision Green Cleaning may also be used to clean microelectronics equipment, parts and surfaces.
materials and coatings
Testing of Materials
Adaptive Thermal Management System
Efficient thermal management has long been an issue in both commercial systems and in the extreme environments of space. In space exploration and habitation, significant challenges are experienced in providing fluid support systems such as cryogenic storage, life support, and habitats; or thermal control systems for launch vehicle protection, environmental heat management, or electronic instruments. Furthermore, these systems operate in dynamic, transient modes and often under extremes of temperature or pressure. The current technical requirements associated with the thermal management of these systems result in control issues as well as significant life-cycle costs. To combat these issues, the Adaptive Thermal Management System (ATMS) was developed to help provide the capability for tanks, structural walls, or composite substrate materials to switch functionality (conductive or insulative) depending on environmental conditions or applied stimuli. As a result, the ATMS provides the ability to adapt between both heating and cooling modes within a single system. For example, shape memory alloy (SMA) elements are used to actuate at certain design temperatures to create a conductive bridge between two metal plates allowing broad-area heat rejection from the hotter surface. Upon cooling to the lower design set-point, the SMA elements return to their original shapes, thereby breaking the conductive path and returning the system to its overall insulative state. This technology has the potential to be applied to any system that would have the need for a self-regulating thermal management system that allows for heat transfer from one side to another.
mechanical and fluid systems
front image
Drain System for Pools, Spas, and Tanks
This drain system, originally created to increase safety in neutral buoyancy tanks, has a high potential for increasing safety and performance in any application using a recirculation system. As opposed to a traditional cover for a drainage system, this device is comprised of many long, narrow channels through which water can flow. The openings are configured in a way that there is never a suction force large enough to trap one or multiple human bodies. In addition, the channels are deep enough that hair or other objects cannot become entangled or knotted because they cannot reconnect once in the channel. The drain system can be patterned to suit any pool (or spa, tank, container, etc.), and it can be placed on the floor, walls, or both. The technology is suitable for mass production methods such as extruding or molding. Why It's Better: The NASA innovation combines many desirable safety features into one simple system. Along with the decreased risk of limb entrapment and entanglement, the drain system also does a more thorough job of mixing chemicals, which diminishes bacteria growth and decreases operating costs. The system requires no protrusive drain cover, thereby eliminating the risk of injury due to bodily contact with the drain.
sensors
Front_TOP8_9.jpg
Optical Mass Sensor for Multi-Phase Flows
Unlike commercial turbine and Venturi-type sensors, which are flow intrusive and prone to high error rates, NASA's new flow sensor technology uses an optical technique to precisely measure the physical characteristics of a liquid flowing within a pipe. It generates a reading of the flows density, which provides a highly accurate mass flow measurement when combined with flow velocity data from a second optical sensor. NASA's sensor technology provides both a void fraction measurement, which is a measurement of the instantaneous gas/liquid percentage of a static volume and a quality measurement, which is the fraction of flow that is vapor as part of a total mass flow. It also provides a direct measurement of the gas/liquid concentration within the flow, making it suited for real-time measurement of multi-phase flows. The technology was originally developed to accurately determine the flow rates and tank levels of multi-phase cryogenic fuels used on various NASA vehicles including the Space Shuttle and in ground-based propulsion testing. It can also be used for a wide range of gas/liquid ratios, flows with complex cross sectional profiles, flows containing bubbles or quasi-solids, and essentially any liquid, gas, or multi-phase flow that can be optically characterized. Because it is insensitive to position, the new technology also has potential for use in zero-gravity tank level sensors.
sensors
A wide variety of applications
Fluid Measurement Sensor
The fluid measurement sensor is configured with a spiral electrical trace on flexible substrate. The sensor receives a signal from the accompanying magnetic field data acquisition system. Once electrically active, the sensor produces its own harmonic magnetic field as the inductor stores and releases magnetic energy. The antenna of the measurement acquisition system is switched from transmitting to receiving mode to acquire the magnetic-field response of the sensor. The magnetic-field response attributes of frequency, amplitude, and bandwidth of the inductor correspond to the physical property states measured by the sensor. The received response is correlated to calibrated data to determine the physical property measurement. When multiple sensors are inductively coupled, the data acquisition system only needs to activate and read one sensor to obtain measurement data from all of them. Fluid level measurement occurs in several ways. In the immersion method, the capacitance of the sensor circuit changes as it is immersed in fluid, thus changing the frequency response as the fluid level rises or falls. Fluid level can also be measured from the outside of a non-conductive container. The response frequency from the sensor is dependent upon the inductance of the container plus the combination of fluid and air inside it, which corresponds to the level of liquid inside the container. Roll and pitch are measured by using three or more sensors in a container. With any given orientation, each sensor will detect a different fluid level, thus providing the basis for calculating the fluid angle. Volume can be measured in the same way, using the angle levels detected by the sensors and the geometric characteristics of the container to perform the volume calculation.
Stay up to date, follow NASA's Technology Transfer Program on:
facebook twitter linkedin youtube
Facebook Logo Twitter Logo Linkedin Logo Youtube Logo