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Center Innovation Fund: KSC CIF

Low Temperature Shape Memory Alloys for Adaptive, Autonomous Systems

Completed Technology Project
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Project Description

Cryogenic training apparatus design for low temperature, two-way shape memory alloys
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. More »

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