Tool for Rapid Identification of TCE in Plants
Plant uptake of TCE from contaminated groundwater is a well-known phenomenon. During the photosynthesis process, plants metabolize the TCE into a byproduct called trichloroacetic acid (TCAA). TCAA has been found to be a good indicator (or surrogate) molecule for the presence of TCE because it is more stable than TCE in plants. The hyperspectral estimator is being designed to detect TCAA. The method uses a white light that is directed at the surface of a plant's leaf. The interaction between the light and the leaf produces spectral signatures that are captured using a detector. A processor that will be coupled to the detector will compare these signatures to a library/database of signatures known to be indicators of the presence of TCAA (and thus TCE). The figure below on the left shows hyperspectral images captured using the method for leaves dosed with TCE over various time periods. These images are examples of response signatures that will eventually be built into the device's reference library/database. Proof-of-concept testing has shown that the hyperspectral estimator is capable of estimating the presence/absence of TCE in plant leaves with an accuracy of 80%. Efforts are now underway to further improve the accuracy of this method and to prototype the technology. The figure below on the right shows a diagram of the planned device.
Robotic Inspection System for Deep Sea Structures
The Robotic Inspection System improves the inspection of deep sea structures such as offshore storage cells/tanks, pipelines, and other subsea exploration applications. Generally, oil platforms are comprised of pipelines and/or subsea storage cells. These storage cells not only provide a stable base for the platform, they provide intermediate storage and separation capability for oil. Surveying these structures to examine the contents is often required when the platforms are being decommissioned. The Robotic Inspection System provides a device and method for imaging the inside of the cells, which includes hardware and software components. The device is able to move through interconnected pipes, even making 90 degree turns with minimal power. The Robotic Inspection System is able to display 3-dimentional range data from 2-dimensional information. This inspection method and device could significantly reduce the cost of decommissioning cells. The device has the capability to map interior volume, interrogate integrity of cell fill lines, display real-time video and sonar, and with future development possibly sample sediment or oil.
information technology and software
Interactive Diagnostic Modeling Evaluator
The i-DME is a computer-user interactive procedure for repairing the system model through its abstract representation, diagnostic matrix (D-matrix) and then translating the changes back to the system model. The system model is a schematic representation of faults, tests, and their relationship in terms of nodes and arcs. D-matrix is derived from the system models propagation paths as the relationships between faults and tests. When the relation exists between fault and test, it is represented as 1 in the D-matrix. To repair the D-matrix and wrapper/test logic by playing back a sequence of nominal and failure scenarios (given), the user sets the performance criteria and accepts/declines the proposed repairs. During D-matrix repair, the interactive procedure includes conditions ranging from modifying 0s and 1s in the matrix, adding/removing the rows (failure sources) columns (tests), or modifying test/wrapper logic used to determine test results. The translation of changes to the system model is done via a process which maps each portion of the D-matrix model to the corresponding locations in the system model. Since the mapping back to the system model is non-unique, more than one candidate system model repair can be suggested. In addition to supporting the modification, it provides a trace for each modification such that a rational basis for each decision can be verified.
Pre-Treatment Solution for Water Recovery
NASA Johnson Space Center developed, tested and implemented a pre-treatment solution with the purpose of pre-treating urine before further processing of it in the International Space Station (ISS) distiller. The solution increased the water recovery rate in the ISS distiller from 75 to 90 percent, doubled the volume of feed processed per cycle, reduced the volume of brine by half, and eliminated the formation of precipitate up to 90% water recovery. The benefits extend to other steps in the process. For example, less precipitate has the potential to reduce the frequency of changing the filters and the number of filters used per gallon filtered during the distillation stage. Furthermore, this pre-treatment solution prevents bacterial and fungal growth during storage. Although the solution was developed for the ISS distiller, the technology can potentially be used on Earth to pre-treat contaminated water that is usually treated with a chemical solution to recover water from organic laden, high-salinity wastewaters. The technology is a simple additive process that can be scaled to fit processing demands. The pre-treatment solution has the potential to improve water recovery in many applications such as: desalination plants, brackish water treatment, mining water treatment and more. The technology can also be used in the transporting or storage of waste or other water sources due to the technology's ability to prevent microbial growth. This NASA Technology is available for your company to license and develop into a commercial product. NASA does not manufacture products for commercial sale.
Data Transfer for Multiple Sensor Networks
High-temperature sensors have been used in silicon carbide electronic oscillator circuits. The frequency of the oscillator changes as a function of changes in the sensor's parameters, such as pressure. This change is analogous to changes in the pitch of a person's voice. The output of this oscillator, and many others may be superimposed onto a single medium. This medium may be the power lines supplying current to the sensors, a third wire dedicated to data transmission, the airwaves through radio transmission, or an optical or other medium. However, with nothing to distinguish the identities of each source, this system is useless. Using frequency dividers and linear feedback shift registers, comprised of flip flops and combinatorial logic gates connected to each oscillator, unique bit stream codes may be generated. These unique codes are used to amplitude modulate the output of the sensor (both amplitude shift keying and on-off keying are applicable). By using a dividend of the oscillator frequency to generate the code, a constant a priori number of oscillator cycles will define each bit. At the receiver, a detected frequency will have associated with it a stored code pattern. Thus, a detected frequency will have a unique modulation pattern or "voice," disassociating it from noise and from other transmitting sensors. These codes may be pseudorandom binary sequences (PRBS), ASCII characters, gold codes, etc. The detected code length and frequency are measured, offering intelligent data transfer. This is an early-stage technology requiring additional development. Glenn welcomes co-development opportunities.
Floating Ultrasonic System
NASA's Floating Ultrasonic System includes a transducer assembly with a flexible membrane tip made of nitrile rubber. A small amount of gel couplant is layered between the transducer and the inside of the membranethe gel is fully contained inside the probe and does not come into contact with surfaces being inspected. The transducer assembly is mounted to a voice-coil motor that acts as an actuator. Electrical current sent to motor moves the transducer up and down over the surface being inspected. The vibrating, or floating, transducer design provides two critical functions. First, it applies a small force that enables coupling of the ultrasonic energy from the transducer to the surface being inspected. Second, it facilitates movement of the transducer across the surface. A diagram of NASA's Floating Ultrasonic System is presented in Figure 1(a). NASA has constructed a bench-top unit that has undergone successful testing. Figure 1(b) shows ultrasonic C-scan images of a composite plate using both NASA's Floating Ultrasonic System and a traditional watertank- based scanning system. NASA's system provides comparable results, but unlike the water-tank system, it allows for inspection without the use of an external liquid couplant. NASA researchers are working on additional refinements to the technology, including improving resolution, and plan to develop it into a handheld device. The technology will be used for the in-situ inspection of composite aerospace parts that are undergoing fatigue testing.
materials and coatings
Molecular Adsorber Coating (MAC)
MAC is a zeolite based coating that captures and traps molecules in its microscopically porous structure. This microscopic nano-textured structure, consisting of large open pores or cavities, within a crystal- like structure, provides a large surface area to mass ratio that maximizes available trapping efficiency. MAC is a durable coating that is applied through spray application. These sprayable coatings eliminate the major drawbacks of puck type adsorbers (weight, size, and mounting hardware requirements), resulting in cost savings, mass savings, easier utilization, greater adsorber surface area, more flexibility, and higher efficiency. This coating works in air, as well as vacuum systems, depending on the application. There is potential for ground based spin-off applications of this coating, particularly in areas where contaminants and volatile compounds need to be collected and contained. Example industries include: pharmaceutical production, the food industry, electronics manufacturing (circuit boards and wafers), laser manufacturing, vacuum systems, chemical processing, paint booths, and general gas and water adsorption.
mechanical and fluid systems
Normally-closed (NC) Zero Leak Valve
The valve consists of two major sub-assemblies: the actuator and the flow cavity. The actuator is preloaded to 1,250 N by adjusting the preload bolt, pressing the Terfenol-D against the now-deflected belleville springs. When actuation is needed, either solenoid coil is charged in a pulsed mode, causing magnetostriction or elongation in the Terfenol-D which deflects the belleville spring stack, supplying an increasing load to the stem until the parent metal seal is fractured. Once fractured, the spring inside the bellows drives the bellows base downward, onto a raised boss at the top of the fracture plate. When fracture has occurred, the stem and its spring stack is left, separated from the actuator column. The Terfenol-D is unloaded and returns to its original length. The valve remains open due to the spring inside the bellows.
Soil Remediation With Plant-Fungal Combinations
The technology builds on the existing notion that establishment of trees in contaminated soils can be enhanced through the use of ectomycorrhizal (EM) fungi. EM fungi impart resistance to soil extremes such as high temperature, high acidity and heavy metal contamination. This process for soil remediation utilizes specific plant/fungal combinations that are specifically adapted to conditions created by phenolic application to soils, and abilities of ectomycorrhizal fungi to oxidize these compounds. This is done by taking advantage of the ability of native fungi to upregulate enzyme genes in response to changes in host physiological condition and hence enhance natural phenolic oxidation in soils by up to 5-fold. Ectomycorrhizal mediated remediation of phenolic- based contamination through use of specifically adapted ectomycorrhizal fungi and enzymes utilizes the findings that EM fungi in the genera Russula and Piloderma react with positive growth responses to phenolic-based soil contamination. The activities of enzymes that oxidize these compounds increase in activity by 5 fold when the host tree is partially defoliated, which in turn imparts an increase in phenolic oxidation in soils by a similar amount. Defoliation is done by pine needle removal, where 50% of the needles are removed. This process is performed each year on new growth to maintain defoliation.
mechanical and fluid systems
Harsh Environment Protective Housings
These connectors are designed to be used in harsh environments and to withstand rough handling, such as being stepped on or rolled over by wheelbarrows or light vehicles. If the demated connectors are dropped or placed on the ground, the end caps will shield them from damage and contaminants. When mated, the seal between the housings and end caps keeps contaminants out. The end caps are latched to the housings so that the caps cannot be unintentionally opened; this latch can be opened only by depressing the levers. The spring used to open or close the cap is constructed of a shape memory alloy, allowing the cap to be opened and closed an almost infinite number of times. The cap actuation levers are designed so that only a 3/4-inch pull is needed to open the cap a full 190 degrees. The housings can accept most commercial-off-the-shelf electrical or fluid connectors (including those designed for cryogenics), thus eliminating the need for specialized connectors in hostile environments. The housings can also be grounded and scaled up or down to accommodate connectors of different sizes. The housings can be constructed of steel, aluminum, composites, or even plastic, depending on the environment in which they will be used and material cost constraints.