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Center Innovation Fund: KSC CIF

Low Temperature Shape Memory Alloys for Adaptive, Autonomous Systems (SMA)

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

The objective of this joint activity between Kennedy Space Center (KSC) and Glenn Research Center (GRC) is to develop and evaluate the applicability of 2-way SMAs in proof-of-concept, low-temperature adaptive autonomous systems.  As part of this low technology readiness (TRL) activity, we will develop and train low-temperature novel, 2-way shape memory alloys (SMAs) with actuation temperatures ranging from 0°C to -150 °C. These experimental alloys will also be preliminary tested to evaluate their performance parameters and transformation (actuation) temperatures in low- temperature or cryogenic adaptive proof-of-concept systems. The challenge will be in the development, design, and training of the alloys for 2-way actuation at those temperatures.

The feasibility of using SMAs to provide switchable thermal systems has been previously demonstrated by taking advantage of the 1- or 2-way actuation properties of SMAs, allowing a system to switch between a thermally insulative to a conductive state by actuation of the SMA at a preset temperature. However, the alloys designed or commercially available and tested to date had actuation temperatures above room temperature (65–95 °C).  Technology needs still exists for autonomous actuation at cryogenic temperatures. The GRC portion of the research work is being leveraged to address such technology gaps in low-temperature SMA compositions and covers a broad chemistry of binary, ternary and quaternary alloys with temperature-induced actuation capabilities below 0 °C. Experimental alloys with elemental constituents encompassing Fe, Co, Cr, Hf, Cu and Zr added to the base NiTi alloy are explored and downselected.  The new alloys are cryogenic trained for 2-way actuation for potential utilization in novel designs developed by KSC. 

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Project Duration

Technology Maturity (TRL)

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