For some people, the best part about buying a new car is its factory-fresh new car smell, a distinctive aroma created when the chemicals and residual solvents used to manufacture dashboards, car seats, carpeting and other vehicle appointments outgas and fill the cabin.
While the scent may be alluring to some, many researchers believe exposure to these gases isn't particularly healthy — so unhealthy, in fact, that some recommend that drivers keep their new cars ventilated while driving.
Outgassed solvents, epoxies, lubricants, and other materials aren't especially wholesome for contamination-sensitive telescope mirrors, thermal-control units, high-voltage electronic boxes, cryogenic instruments, detectors and solar arrays, either. As a result, NASA engineers are always looking for new techniques to prevent these gases from adhering to instrument and spacecraft surfaces and potentially shortening their lives.
A group of technologists has created a low-cost, easy-to-apply solution, which is more effective than current techniques.
Led by Principal Investigator Sharon Straka, an engineer at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., the team has created a new, patent-pending sprayable paint that adsorbs these gaseous molecules and stops them from affixing to instrument components. Made of zeolite, a mineral widely used in industry for water purification and other uses, and a colloidal silica binder that acts as the glue holding the coating together, the new molecular adsorber is highly permeable and porous — attributes that trap the outgassed contaminants. Because it doesn't contain volatile organics, the material itself doesn't cause additional outgassing.
"It looks promising," Straka said. "It collects significantly more contaminants than other approaches."
Advantages Over Current Techniques
Instrument developers currently use zeolite-coated cordierite devices that look like hockey pucks. Because each individual puck has limited adsorbing capabilities, instrument designers must install multiple units, which require complex mounting hardware. "These devices are big, heavy and chunky, and take up a lot of real estate," explained Co-Principal Investigator Mark Hasegawa, of NASA Goddard.
The new paint, however, overcomes these limitations by providing a low-mass alternative. Because technicians can spray the paint directly onto surfaces, no extra mounting equipment is necessary. In addition, technicians can coat adhesive strips or tape and then place these pieces in strategic locations within an instrument, spacecraft cavity, or vacuum system, further simplifying adsorber design. "This is an easy technology to insert at a relatively low risk and cost," Hasegawa said "The benefits are significant."
Since its development, Northrop Grumman, Redondo Beach, Calif.; the European Space Agency; the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado at Boulder; and Spica Technologies of Hollis, N.H., have expressed interest in using the material, Straka said. In addition, NASA's ICESat2 ATLAS project is evaluating its use, pending the outcome of additional tests, she said.
The team plans to tweak its recipe to enhance the paint's performance and experiment with different pigments, mainly black, to create a coating to absorb stray light that can overcome the light scientists actually want to gather. Straka also believes the technology could be used on the International Space Station or future space habitats to trap pollutants and odors in crew quarters.
"We're ready for primetime," Straka said. "The coating is undergoing qualification tests and is ready for infusion into flight projects or ground vacuum systems."
Lori Keesey | Source: EurekAlert!
Further information: www.nasa.gov
Further Reports about: contamination-sensitive telescope mirrors > cryogenic instruments > Goddard Space Flight Center > high-voltage electronic boxes > NASA > thermal-control units > volatile organics
More articles from Physics and Astronomy:
3D printing used as a tool to explain theoretical physics
09.12.2013 | Institute of Physics
Three-dimensional view helps laser in building new molecules
06.12.2013 | Max-Planck-Institut für Quantenoptik
In power electronics systems bonded connections create the central electrical connections between adjoining surfaces.
The quality of these bonded connections is one of the main factors that determines the reliability and availability of drive systems in electric vehicles, and hence constitutes a major design challenge for German auto manufacturers aiming to electrify their vehicles.
Now the partners participating in the RoBE (Robust Bonds in ...
International team of scientists develops new feedback method for optimizing the laser pulse shapes used in the control of chemical reactions
In many ways, traditional chemical synthesis is similar to cooking. To alter the final product, you can change the ingredients or their ratio, change the method of mixing ingredients, or change the temperature or pressure of the environment of the ingredients.
Like an accomplished chef, chemists have become very skilled ...
A genetic defect protects mice from infection with influenza viruses
A new study published in the scientific journal PLOS Pathogens points out that mice lacking a protein called Tmprss2 are no longer affected by certain flu viruses.
The discovery was made by researchers from the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) in Braunschweig in collaboration with colleagues from Göttingen and ...
The Light: Global study gets underway with online user survey
Light has a fundamental impact on our sense of well-being and performance. In cooperation with Zumtobel, a supplier of lighting solutions, Fraunhofer IAO has launched a global user survey of lighting quality in offices. The objective is to identify the best lighting conditions for a variety of spaces and lighting ...
Quantum entanglement, a perplexing phenomenon of quantum mechanics that Albert Einstein once referred to as “spooky action at a distance,” could be even spookier than Einstein perceived.
Physicists at the University of Washington and Stony Brook University in New York believe the phenomenon might be intrinsically linked with wormholes, hypothetical features of space-time that in popular science fiction can provide a much-faster-than-light shortcut from one part of the universe to another.
But here’s the catch: One couldn’t actually ...
09.12.2013 | Materials Sciences
09.12.2013 | Life Sciences
09.12.2013 | Studies and Analyses
05.12.2013 | Event News
04.12.2013 | Event News
12.11.2013 | Event News