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instrumentation
Aircraft at sunset
Sensory Metallic Materials
While almost all advancements in nondestructive evaluation (NDE) focus on improving the NDE equipment and techniques, any testing is inherently limited by the response of the materials being tested. This technology seeks to improve the response of the material itself by embedding shape memory alloy (SMA) particles in the metallic structural alloy in a manner that does not compromise the structural integrity of the material. These SMA particles undergo a martensitic phase change (crystallographic change) in response to strain (e.g., a crack tip causing local deformation). The phase change produces an acoustic emission and a change in magnetic properties that can easily be detected and monitored, providing a means for enhanced NDE. The advantage is either that (1) the technology makes available existing NDE techniques that were not applicable before because of the type of structural material being used (the particles add new physics to the base structure) or (2) the technology enhances NDE because the SMA particles create conditions that are easier to detect damage relative to the equivalent level of damage in a structure without particles.
mechanical and fluid systems
Alaskas Pavlof Volcano: NASAs View from Space
Nitinol-Actuated Normally Open Valve Assembly (NOVA)
The nitinol-actuated Normally Open Valve Assembly (NOVA) is a type of zero-leak permanent isolation valve designed for liquid propellant service on in-space propulsion systems with operating pressures less than or equal to 500 psia. The NOVA is a drop-in replacement for the currently used pyrovalve. Prior to actuation, the valve allows propellant flow with a pressure drop of < 3 psi at a flow rate of 0.15 kg/s. A compressed piece of nitinol inside the valve is heated once actuation is desired, causing the nitinol to recover to its origin shape. This recovery closes the valve, creating a leak-tight seal. The valve is compatible with all storable propellants.
materials and coatings
Proof-of-concept with Ti-6Al-4V AM-fabricated structure
Functionally Graded Metal-Metal Composite Structures
In order to improve the properties of monolithic metallic materials, alloying additions are made that create secondary phases and/or precipitate structures. These improvements must occur during melt solidification and are governed by the thermodynamics of the process. That is, optimizing the metallic alloy is possible only as much as thermodynamics allow. Developing novel methods to combine metallic compositions/alloys into a fully dense material is of interest to create materials with novel property combinations not available with monolithic alloys.While various approaches for layering two-dimensional materials exist, their capabilities are typically limited and non-isotropic. Further, while three-dimensional composites may be formed with conventional powder metallurgy processes, it is generally very difficult to control the arrangement of the phases, for example due to randomness created by mixing powders. This invention is method for creating a multiple alloy composite structures by forming a three-dimensional arrangement of a first alloy composition, in which the three-dimensional arrangement has a substantially open and continuous porosity. The three-dimensional arrangement of the first alloy composition is infused with at least a second alloy composition. The three-dimensional arrangement is then consolidated into a fully dense solid structure.
materials and coatings
Robotic Arm
How to Train Shape Memory Alloys
Glenn researchers have optimized how shape memory alloys (SMAs) are trained by reconceptualizing the entire stabilization process. Whereas prior techniques stabilize SMAs during thermal cycling, under conditions of fixed stress (known as the isobaric response), what Glenn's innovators have done instead is to use mechanical cycling under conditions of fixed temperature (the isothermal response) to achieve stabilization rapidly and efficiently. This novel method uses the isobaric response to establish the stabilization point under conditions identical to those that will be used during service. Once the stabilization point is known, a set of isothermal mechanical cycling experiments is then performed using different levels of applied stress. Each of these mechanical cycling experiments is left to run until the strain response has stabilized. When the stress levels required to achieve stabilization under isothermal conditions are known, they can be used to train the material in a fraction of the time that would be required to train the material using only thermal cycling. As the strain state has been achieved isothermally, the material can be switched back under isobaric conditions, and will remain stabilized during service. In short, Glenn's method of training can be completed in a matter of minutes rather than in days or even weeks, and so SMAs become much more practical to use in a wide range of applications.
materials and coatings
Bridge
High-Performance Polyimide Powder Coatings
Powder coatings are used throughout industry to coat a myriad of metallic objects. This method of coating has gained popularity because it conserves materials and eliminates volatile organic compounds. Resins traditionally chosen for powder coatings have low melting points that enable them to melt and flow into a smooth coating before being cured to a durable surface. High-performance resins, such as Teflon, nylon, and polyimide, have not been found suitable for use in powder coatings because of their high melting points. However, KSC's newly developed polyamic acid resins with low melting points can be used in a powder coating. These polyamic acid resins, when sprayed onto metal surfaces, can be cured in conventional powder coating ovens to deliver high-performance polyimide powder coatings. The polyimide powder coatings offer superior heat and electrical stability as well as superior chemical resistance over other types of powder coatings.
mechanical and fluid systems
Oil Rig Flame
High-Temperature Single Crystal Preloader
For extremely high-temperature sealing applications, Glenn researchers have devised novel methods for fabricating single-crystal preloaders. NASA's high-temperature preloaders consist of investment cast or machined parts that are fabricated in various configurations from single crystal superalloys. Machined preloaders include a variety of spring configurations, compressed axially or radially, fabricated from single crystal slabs. Before machining, the slabs are carefully oriented in a special goniometer using x-diffraction techniques. This helps to maintain proper crystal orientation relative to the machined part and the applied loads. For more complex geometry components which cannot be easily and economically machined, an investment casting approach would be used. Complex preloader geometries include wire coil springs of various configurations. These single crystal preloaders would be designed with the appropriate stiffness for the intended thermal barrier/seal application and placed underneath, or integrated within, the seal/barrier. At extrememly high temperature, the preload device keeps the seal/barrier mated against the opposing surface as the gap between the two surfaces changes, maintaining contact between surfaces and preventing convective heat transfer.
electrical and electronics
Supercapacitors
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.
materials and coatings
Solar sail
Sequential/Simultaneous Multi-Metalized Nanocomposites (S2M2N)
Well-dispersed metal decorated nanotube or nanowire polymer composites have rarely been reported because of the excessive weight contrast between the decorated tubes and the polymer matrix. However, various properties, such as high electrical conductivity, permittivity, permeability, wear resistance, anti-penetrant, radiation shielding and high toughness are desirable and can be achieved with SeM2N metalized nanocomposites. Further, it is desirable to have nanocomposites that exhibit improvement in more than one of these properties and thus be capable of performing multiple functions. This invention provides a method to decorate pre-resided nanotube (CNT, BNNT, GPs) or nanowire surfaces in a polymer matrix with metal nanoparticles via supercritical fluid (SCF) deposition.
manufacturing
Gore panels are welded together to form the dome ends of cryogenic tanks.
Improving Formability of Al-Li Alloys
Via this NASA innovation, a product is first heated to a temperature within the range of 204 to 343 degrees C for an extended soak of up to 16 hours. The product is then slowly heated to a second temperature within the range of 371 to 482 degrees C for a second soak of up to 12 hours. Finally, the product is slowly cooled to a final soak temperature of 204 to 343 degrees C before cooling to room temperature. The product so treated will exhibit greatly improved formability. To date, the low formability issue has limited the use of lightweight Al-Li alloys for large rocket fuel tank dome applications. Manufacturing a dome by stretch forming typically requires multiple panels as well as multiple welding and inspection steps to assemble these panels into a full-scale fuel tank dome. Complex tensile and bending stresses induced during the stretch forming operations of Al-Li alloys have resulted in high rates of failure for this process. To spin form a large rocket dome, the spin blank must be prepared by joining smaller plates together using friction stir welding. However, friction stir welding produces a distinct metallurgical structure inside and around the friction stir weld that makes it very susceptible to cracking during spin forming.
manufacturing
System for In-situ Defect Detection in Composites During Cure
NASA's System for In-situ Defect (e.g., porosity, fiber waviness) Detection in Composites During Cure consists of an ultrasonic portable automated C-Scan system with an attached ultrasonic contact probe. This scanner is placed inside of an insulated vessel that protects the temperature-sensitive components of the scanner. A liquid nitrogen cooling systems keeps the interior of the vessel below 38&deg;C. A motorized X-Y raster scanner is mounted inside an unsealed cooling container made of porous insulation boards with a cantilever scanning arm protruding out of the cooling container through a slot. The cooling container that houses the X-Y raster scanner is periodically cooled using a liquid nitrogen (LN2) delivery system. Flexible bellows in the slot opening of the box minimize heat transfer between the box and the external autoclave environment. The box and scanning arm are located on a precision cast tool plate. A thin layer of ultrasonic couplant is placed between the transducer and the tool plate. The composite parts are vacuum bagged on the other side of the tool plate and inspected. The scanning system inside of the vessel is connected to the controller outside of the autoclave. The system can provide A-scan, B-scan, and C-scan images of the composite panel at multiple times during the cure process. The in-situ system provides higher resolution data to find, characterize, and track defects during cure better than other cure monitoring techniques. In addition, this system also shows the through-thickness location of any composite manufacturing defects during cure with real-time localization and tracking. This has been demonstrated for both intentionally introduced porosity (i.e., trapped during layup) as well processing induced porosity (e.g., resulting from uneven pressure distribution on a part). The technology can be used as a non-destructive evaluation system when making composite parts in in an oven or an autoclave, including thermosets, thermoplastics, composite laminates, high-temperature resins, and ceramics.
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