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SME Technology Interchange

February 19, 2014

New Technologies. New Opportunities
SME and the New Economy Initiative (NEI) presented 25 of the most relevant NASA-developed technologies available for implementation, development and more. With a focus on prime Detroit region sectors like advanced energy, automotive and innovative manufacturing, companies like Whirlpool, Chrysler, Johnson Controls, General Motors, General Dynamics and more found ideas and potential partnership opportunities to expand or just improve their manufacturing.

Keynote Presentation

NASA Technology and Lotus Engineering Products and Services
Gregory E. Peterson, Lotus Engineering

Download this presentation (PDF) to find challenges facing the automotive industry today, enabling technologies to meet these challenges, and holistic approaches for implementing numerous NASA developed technologies into mainstream automotive products.

Featured Technologies

If you missed the event, you can still explore the featured technologies below.

Long Life Gear Systems
NASA’s Glenn Research Center (GRC) has been pioneering advanced gear and drive systems technologies for the past 30+ years. GRC’s research and development of novel gear materials, lubrication formulations and applications, and super finishing technologies have helped to significantly increase the reliability and power-to-weight ratio of modern rotorcraft drive systems. GRC’s expertise in these and other advanced drive system technologies combined with its unique test facilities represent a national asset that can, through partnerships, provide a competitive edge for U.S. industry.

Durable Aerogel Technologies
Aerogels are incredible insulators, have high surface areas that can be utilized in different ways, and have low dielectric properties . Different than aerogels on the commercial market, GRC aerogels are strong, can be fabricated as thin, flexible films and do not create dust. Aerogels; polyimide aerogel scale-up; composites for space applications; nanotechnology and nanocomposites; robust vehicle systems.

Polymer Matrix Nanocomposites
Single-Wall Carbon NanoTubes (SWCNTs) that are dispersed within a polymer matrix. The resulting composite offers improved mechanical, thermal, and electrical properties for use in automotive applications (as compared to conventional polymers or polymers with unmodified SWCNTs). This technology provides better strength, stiffness, stability, and higher conductivity than conventional reinforcement materials. These ultra-lightweight, high-strength composite materials are ideal for fabrication of lighter weight race cars, automobile components, flywheels, and more.

Novel Nonionic Radiofrequency Switches
A nanoionics-based radiofrequency (RF) switches for use in communications, sensing, and control systems in automotive vehicles. These innovative nanoionic devices have the potential to replace microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) and conventional RF semiconductor devices in automotive systems. Nanoionic switches offer the superior RF performance and low power consumption found in MEMS switches, with higher reliability and without the need for higher electrical voltages. Nanoionics-based RF switches also offer the durability, high-speed operation, and low cost of semiconductor devices.

Advanced Lithium-Ion Battery Development
Li-ion batteries that are optimized for high energy output, maximum safety (low risk of combustion), and operation down to 0° C. The Battery Team at GRC is responsible for developing the novel silicon-based anode and final integration of components into new battery designs. A simultaneous efforts at JPL addresses development of new cathode and electrolyte materials for incorporation into these batteries.

Advanced Gas Sensors and High Temperature Pressure Sensors
Innovators at NASA’s Glenn Research Center have developed advanced hydrogen and hydrocarbon gas sensors capable of detecting leaks, monitoring emissions, and providing in situ measurements of gas composition and pressure. These compact, rugged sensors can be used to optimize combustion and lower emissions and are designed to withstand harsh, high-temperature environments (e.g., silicon carbide (SiC) sensors can operate at 600 °C). NASA Glenn is actively seeking industrial partners to cooperatively develop and apply these cutting-edge sensor systems in new applications.

Ferroelectric Reflectarray Antenna
The Ferroelectric Reflectarray Antenna is a technology that consists of a flat surface with integrated phase shifters and patch radiators illuminated at a virtual focus. The signal passes through the phase shifters and is re-radiated as a focused beam in the preferred / target direction. The FRA is enabled by unique low loss ferroelectric phase shifters designed at the NASA Glenn Research Center. The technology features a reciprocal surface which allows the same aperture to transmit or receive, so the antenna is ideal for two-way communications or monostatic radar. Because of the uniqueness of this innovation, the FRA received the 2010 R&D 100 Award.

Intelligent Power Systems
GRC has extensive expertise in the area of power system controls, power electronics, power system simulation and systems integration. Additionally, it is has physical infrastructure to implement a renewable microgrid with solar arrays, wind turbines, flywheels and fuel cells. Currently it is developing autonomous control technology can be use to perform energy management, load management and power network management that can be demonstrated on this microgrid as well as advanced power systems for space exploration.

Portable Low Cost Nondestructive Materials Testing via UV Spectroscopy
Ultraviolet spectroscopy and imaging for the non-destructive evaluation of the degree of cure, aging, and other properties of composite materials. This method can be used in air, and is portable for field use. This method operates in reflectance, absorbance, and luminescence modes. Organic and inorganic compounds such as resins, semiconductors, silicates, and metal oxides, can be analyzed.

Probabilistic Analysis Methods
It is becoming increasingly evident that deterministic analysis methods will not be sufficient to design automotive components fabricated from composites. These structural components are subjected to complex, and severe loading conditions. Likewise fabrication of composite components can have variations in defect size, location, and orientation which will affect the structural response. Fabrication tolerances by their very nature are statistical. The direct way to account for all these uncertain aspects is to use probabilistic structural analysis methods that account for both global and microstructural characteristics.

Materials for Power and Energy Storage
Battery materials; ceramic membranes; superconducting motors. The copolymer gel is an advanced copolymer gel electrolyte that can significantly increase battery energy density. Because it does not require the addition of volatile or flammable solvents, this new technology offers enhanced safety benefits. Cured at room temperature, the gel can hold over four times its weight in liquid additives, while maintaining good dimensional stability. NASA’s gel electrolyte is environmentally friendly, inexpensive, and safe to manufacture, producing batteries with high ionic conductivity, high cycling stability, robust mechanical strength, and increased cycle life.

Photovoltaic Technology Development and Evaluation
GRC has state of the art solar cell measurement and calibration capabilities, for both space applications and some one-off terrestrial projects. Since they have tested so many different types of cells, their knowledge and data set is extremely valuable. They have the best light simulator in the world. GRC has testing capabilities through the use of Learjet, as well as a reputable facility in flash solar technology.

Affordable Joining, Integration, and Repair Technologies for Ceramic Materials and Systems
The team at GRC provides a systematically designed approach to ceramics joining. They have developed a “toolbox” of capabilities for integrating/fastening/joining materials together that enable better performance at higher temperatures. Innovative technologies also exist for other materials; an idea exists to create a Centralized Ceramic Joining & Integration Center at NASA.

Silicon Carbide (SiC) Large Tapered Crystal (LTC) Growth
GRC is developing a new fabrication technique for Silicon Carbide (SiC) wafers. These wafers can be used to create transistors or gates. SiC, with a wide band gap, can be functional up to 600c, which is a revolutionary improvement over existing Si technology (only effective up to 125c). GRC’s improved fabrication technique minimizes defects in the wafer so that the semiconductor can be effective for larger voltage applications such as power devices (switches on the utility grid without cooling).

GRCop-84 Z: Copper-based Alloy for resistance Welding Elctrodes
NASA’s Glenn Research Center invites companies to establish partnerships to investigate the use of GRCop-84Z for resistance welding electrodes. GRCop-84Z is a copper-based alloy that shows significant improvements in creep rate and low-cycle fatigue (LCF) life when compared to GlidCop AL-15.

Flywheels—Advanced Energy Storage Technology
Advanced system that converts kinetic energy into electrical energy via a motor generator and a rotor; life expectancy 5-10 times greater than chemical batteries. More efficient, long-lasting, lower-weight flywheels can be developed by GRC using advanced materials and an improved bearingless motor. Also used for altitude control and vibrational damping.

Advanced Materials Design Analysis Tools
NASA’s Glenn Research Center has developed a suite of software tools that provides accurate, efficient, and effective modeling and design support when using advanced materials, including smart materials and composites. The tool, Integrated multiscale Micromechanics Analysis Code (ImMAC), is a comprehensive, computationally efficient, and user friendly design analysis toolset used for accurately predicting behavior of all continuous- and discontinuous-reinforced composite materials (polymer, ceramic, and metal-matrix) and smart materials (shape memory alloys and piezoelectric). Due to its extreme level of computational efficiency, ImMAC tools are ideally suited for conducting sensitivity/parametric studies, that is, "what-if" scenarios, with a large number of cases.

Nano-reinforcement Technologies for Polymer Matrix Composite Structural Applications
Research focuses on improving permeability and strength in composite-tanks, either through manufacturing tanks out of nanocomposite-based materials or implementing tank liners. Low permeability and high strength characteristics make it applicable to any high-pressure environment. The improved mechanical properties through designed nanoparticle dispersion make these materials applicable to a variety of polymer matrix composite structural components.

Multidisciplinary Analysis and Optimization
System analysis at conception level including simulation tools, weight analysis, mission analysis, system of systems analysis, etc. Examples include simulating engine and propulsion systems as well as entire fleet simulations. GRC worked closely with engine companies to develop standards for the original software suite and ultimately formed the NPSS consortium, in which it continues to be a participant. Although the framework was designed for aircraft engines, it was designed in a general way, and the foundation could be used for 'anything'.

Additive Manufacturing by Electron Beam Free Form (EBF3) Process: The Future of Art-to-Part Manufacturing
Companies are invited to license an innovative system for performing electron-beam freeform fabrication (EBF3) that offers significant advantages over traditional e-beam and laser-based systems. The core of NASA’s EBF3 system uses a wire-feed design to deliver quality parts that are better than cast and similar to wrought materials while minimizing excess material. Multiple wires can be used to create new alloys or layered parts. The system costs significantly less to build than others, enabling companies previously hesitant to enter the market to compete and win in the expanding 3D printing and additive manufacturing market.

Ultra High Resolution Microfocus CT for Innovative Manufacturing
A specialized Ultra High Resolution Microfocus X-ray computed tomography (CT), combined with microfocus digital radiography system. We have developed CT techniques to analyze metallic, monolithic ceramic, and composite aerospace components. Our CT technology is capable of analyzing complex shapes at resolutions < 10 um (0.0005 in.). The focus of our technology is (i) to apply nondestructive evaluation and health monitoring evaluation techniques for aerospace applications to NASA-wide programs, and (ii) to provide tech transfer and scientific research to support outside agencies as applicable.

High-Temperature, Low-Melt Resins for Liquid Molding NASA’s Glenn Research Center invites companies to license or establish partnerships to develop its patented high-temperature, low-melt imide resins for fabrication of automotive components. Produced by a solvent-free melt process, these resins exhibit high glass transition temperatures (Tg = 370 to 400 °C), low-melt viscosities (10 to 30 poise), long pot-life (1 to 2 hr), and can be easily processed by low-cost RTM and vacuum-assisted resin transfer molding (VARTM). These RTM resins melt at 260 to 280 °C and can be cured at 340 to 370 °C in 2 hr, without releasing any harmful volatile compounds.

Stirling Cycle Machines
Stirling-cycle machines offer unique power generation opportunities. Machines can be built to have long life with zero maintenance, quiet operation, and higher conversion efficiency than traditional engines. Applications include completely clean solar thermal electricity generation, quiet portable generators, and even automotive power plants. The Stirling cycle also offers heat pump machines that use environmentally benign working gas.

Electrolyzer-Based Hydrogen (H2) Fueling Station
NASA has introduced an electrolysis-based system to generate hydrogen gas for fuel cell vehicles into the Cleveland area bus service. Electrolysis is a safe and efficient means of generating hydrogen gas directly from water, without emitting harmful pollutants into the atmosphere. Once the hydrogen is generated, it can be used in fuel cell buses, passenger vehicles, or stationary power systems. Replacing diesel and gasoline-powered vehicles on our roads with fuel cell vehicles would mean reducing the use of fossil fuels and reducing harmful emissions. This hydrogen fueling station will demonstrate the ability to safely, efficiently, and cleanly produce hydrogen gas to be used in actual fuel cell vehicles.

Ceramic Matrix Composite (CMC) Technologies
CMCs reinforced by continuous-length ceramic fibers are advanced lightweight materials with structural capability for multiple high-temperature applications. For the last 30 years, NASA Glenn has conducted leading-edge research toward development of these materials, gaining international recognition for providing world-class technologies for CMC microstructural design, processing, joining, and physical-, chemical-, and mechanical-characterization, and performance modeling. Currently NASA’s CMC technologies are focused primarily on SiC fiber-reinforced SiC matrix (SiC/SiC) composites with longlife structural capability to 2700 °F and beyond for engine hotsection components.

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