Special Coverage

Transducer-Actuator Systems for On-Machine Measurements and Automatic Part Alignment
Wide-Area Surveillance Using HD LWIR Uncooled Sensors
Heavy Lift Wing in Ground (WIG) Cargo Flying Boat
Technique Provides Security for Multi-Robot Systems
Bringing New Vision to Laser Material Processing Systems
NASA Tests Lasers’ Ability to Transmit Data from Space
Converting from Hydraulic Cylinders to Electric Actuators
Automating Optimization and Design Tasks Across Disciplines
Vibration Tables Shake Up Aerospace and Car Testing
Supercomputer Cooling System Uses Refrigerant to Replace Water

Water-Saving Firefighting Nozzle

This nozzle extinguishes fires faster and with far less water than existing systems.

Fluorocarbon-based fire extinguishing agents are environmentally harmful since they cause depletion of the Earth's ozone layer. Fine Water Mist (FWM)-type systems have very favorable characteristics as replacements for existing Halon systems. Typically, these systems include nozzles for creating misting fluids using pressurized gas, and continue to show favor as a mechanism for fire prevention. In these systems, a liquid is typically directed into a central bore of the nozzle, which directs a flow of high-velocity gas. In some nozzles, the velocity and pressure of the gas are increased in a narrowed throat area of the bore, causing the atomization of the fluid into small droplets as the gas travels through the nozzle.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components
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Robotic System for 3D-Printing the Basic Structure of an Entire Building

This technology could enable faster, cheaper, more adaptable building construction.

Materials that can be produced by 3D printing include not just plastics, but metal, glass, and even food. A new system called a Digital Construction Platform (DCP) was developed that can 3D-print the basic structure of an entire building. Structures built with the system could be produced faster and less expensively than traditional construction methods allow. A building could also be completely customized to the needs of a particular site and the desires of its maker. Even the internal structure could be modified in new ways; different materials could be incorporated as the process proceeds, and material density could be varied to provide optimum combinations of strength, insulation, or other properties. Ultimately, this approach could enable the design and construction of new kinds of buildings that would not be feasible with traditional building methods.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping
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Linear Fresnel Spectrometer Chip with Gradient Line Grating

A very small spectrometer was created by integrating a differential linear Fresnel lens onto an imaging chip.

NASA's Langley Research Center has built a very small spectrometer by integrating a differential linear Fresnel lens onto an imaging chip. NASA is using the lens/chip in a very small spectrometer that will be mounted on the tires of a rover to analyze soil on the Moon or Mars. The spectrometer is useful for space-constrained applications. It combines good resolution with small size and potentially reduced manufacturing costs. The ultra-compact integration of the spectrometer is enabled by the use of an optimized Fresnel grating. Since Fresnel imaging works as valid focal points of spectrum within the short optical distance, the shorter optical path length required (compared to a traditional Fraunhofer lens) enables the small size. Further, the evolution to a differentially linear Fresnel lens (instead of circular Fresnel) avoids the need for aperture slit driver electronics and moving parts, and simplifies manufacturing. The linear Fresnel gratings lend themselves to mass production via plastic injection molding or nano-imprint lithography. NASA is seeking partners to develop the spectrometer for commercial applications.

Posted in: Briefs, Imaging
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Method of Manufacturing Convective Accelerometers

Miniaturization and integration of accelerometers in standard integrated circuit (IC) processes has been the topic of extensive research. In most cases, accelerometer structures involve a solid proof mass that is allowed to move under accelerating conditions. This approach has many disadvantages. One key disadvantage is the difficulty of processing such components in IC technologies inherently unsuited for these components.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping
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Intelligent Displacement Sensor Deployment Using MTConnect Protocol over Ethernet

The protocol interfaces to an intelligent sensor and provides data gathering using a PC application.

Quality measurements for design validation and certification requirements sometimes call for hundreds or thousands of sensors and actuators. Maintaining such a complex system is difficult, especially over an extended time period and inevitable personnel changes. Many hours are spent tracking down sensor problems related to the sensor, associated cables, mounting hardware, or some part of the data acquisition system. These are expensive, labor-intensive hours that consume valuable technical resources.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors
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Multi-Dimensional Information Visualization Software

This program provides insight into data collected from networks and network simulations.

DiVisa is a multi-dimensional information visualization tool that en ables researchers to understand the behavior of network data.

Posted in: Briefs, Software
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Ammonia Recovery System for Wastewater

NASA's Ammonia Recovery System for Wastewater was developed for potential use as part of the Environmental Control and Life Support Systems (ECLSS) on the International Space Station. The system uses an affordable media that is highly selective for ammonia. Ammonia concentrations in wastewater as high as 100,000 ppm can be reduced to less than 1 ppm. ECLSS conditions require low power usage, and the avoidance of high-temperature and high-pressure operations. The state-of-the-art for ammonia removal involves biological processes or ion exchange, and neither of these meets NASA's ammonia capture/recovery needs. Biological processes have high complexity, high volume requirements, and introduce contaminants in the effluent. Ion exchange is not very selective for ammonia, and requires regeneration, which requires large amounts of consumables and produces impure ammonia.

Posted in: Briefs, Green Design & Manufacturing
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Sandia Cooler

Applications include laptops and other electronic devices, automotive, appliances, and any device comprising one or more forced-air exchangers.

Heat exchangers are used for the transfer of heat between two or more media. The media may be separated by a solid wall so that they never mix, or they may be in direct contact. Heat exchangers may be used in HVAC systems, power plants, and mechanical devices and systems that require heat transfer. Examples of systems where heat dissipation would be desirable are various electromechanical systems, and electronics applications such as conventional computing systems. In a typical computing system that includes a CPU, one or more memory devices, and other circuitry, cooling of the CPU in particular may be an important design consideration.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components
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Products of Tomorrow: August 2017

This column presents technologies that have applications in commercial areas, possibly creating the products of tomorrow. To learn more about each technology, see the contact information provided for that innovation.

Posted in: Articles, Batteries, Electronics, Coatings & Adhesives, Materials
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Ruck Dock Load Carriage Connector System

This device is used by civilians and military personnel who wear heavy backpacks, such as campers, rangers, firefighters, hikers, and soldiers.

Soldiers, civilians engaged in activities such as hiking, and public safety personnel engaged in search and rescue missions all require reliable systems for the effective carriage of necessary equipment. The most simplistic backpacks and rucksacks often do not incorporate a frame or other rigid load-distribution structure. Such frameless packs are suitable only for relatively light loads, as the bulk of the weight is transferred solely at two points: the shoulders of the user. Additionally, without auxiliary mounting points, the frameless backpack is subject to significant bouncing or swaying as the user runs or jumps.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components
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