Tuesday, August 25, 2009

What Has NASA Done For You, Part 2

Here are some more of life's improvements that came from the space program.

Apollo-era Circuitry Preserves Freshness for Large-Scale Service

A hospital food service system employs a NASA cook/chill concept for serving food. The system allows staff to prepare food well in advance, maintain heat, visual appeal, and nutritional value while reducing operating costs.

Measurement Techniques Safely Monitor Hazardous Gasses

A hollow retroreflector, a mirror-like instrument that reflects light and other radiation back to the source, is used as a sensor to detect the presence of hazardous gases in oil fields, refineries, offshore platforms, chemical plants, waste storage sites, and other locations where gases could be released into the environment.

Lubricant Process Finds Myriad Applications

A process for bonding dry lubricant to space metals led to the development of surface enhancement, or synergistic, coatings, which are used in applications from pizza making to laser manufacturing. Each coating is designed to protect a specific metal group or group of metals to solve problems encountered under operating conditions, such as resistance to corrosion and wear.

Green Buildings Employ Space Suit Textiles

The same fabric used in Apollo-era space suits has been spun off into a cost-effective, environmentally-friendly building material. Used on structures around the world, the Teflon-coated fiberglass strands create a permanent, tent-like roof. Less expensive than conventional roofing materials, the durable white fabric allows natural light to shine through, saving a significant amount of energy.

Insulation Protects Alaskan Pipeline

Metal-bonded polyurethane foam insulation developed for protecting Apollo-era spacecraft was also applied to the Alaskan pipeline, where its temperature controlling properties were in high demand. In order to maintain its fluidity, the oil needs to be kept at relatively high temperatures (180 °F), a tall order in the Arctic. The NASA-derived insulation solved this problem.

Flame-Resistant Textiles Safeguard Firefighters, Soldiers

After a fire on the Apollo launch pad which resulted in the death of three astronauts, NASA worked with private industry to develop a line of fire-resistant textiles for use in space suits and vehicles. These materials are now used in numerous firefighting, military, motor sports, and other applications.

Artificial Heart - The technology used in space shuttle fuel pumps led to the development of a miniaturized ventricular assist pump by NASA and renowned heart surgeon Dr. Michael DeBakey. The tiny pump -- 2-inches long, 1-inch in diameter and weighing less than four ounces -- is currently undergoing European clinical trials where it has been successfully implanted into more than 20 people.

More tomorrow. :-)

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