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Center Innovation Fund: KSC CIF

Lightweight, High Strength Metals With Enhanced Radiation Shielding - Technology Advancing Partnerships Challenge (TAP)

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

Lightweight, High Strength Metals With Enhanced Radiation Shielding - Technology Advancing Partnerships Challenge

The Technology Advancing Partnership (TAP) Challenge will seek to foster innovation throughout the Center by allowing the KSC workforce to identify a specific technology idea that needs improvement and to then work with an external partner to develop that technology. This Challenge will enable competitive partnerships with outside entities that will increase the value by bringing leveraged resources.  The selected proposal from the University of Florida will develop new lightweight technologies with radiation mitigation for spacecraft.  

The alloy of interest will be magnesium-based, which will make it 70% lighter than steel and 65% of the density of aluminum, giving it a potential to decrease fuel consumption dramatically. Magnesium (Mg) has been approved by Federal and Joint Aviation standards and NASA standards state that it can be used in areas that are not prone to corrosion. Thus, the proposed applications include the skin or cladding within structural members or on non-oxidizing environments such as Mars. The Europe Commission is investigation the general use of Mg alloys for aerospace applications under the AEROMAG project, which considers the use of Mg as a breakthrough technology.

The objectives of the research are to 1) develop high strength Mg-based alloys doped with thermal radiation mitigation (neutron-absorbing) elements, 2) characterize their microstructure and mechanical properties, and 3) characterize their radiation shielding efficiency. This work will be carried out at the University of Florida which houses state-of-the-art radiation testing facilities and light metals foundry capability of designing, fabricating, and testing any light weight structural material. The proposed work leverages existing programs supported by the University of Florida, National Science Foundation, and the Department of Energy.

The results of this work are not only expected to elucidate fundamental radiation shielding mechanisms inherent to doped Mg alloys but also explore the opportunity to integrate Mg into non-critical members, thus potentially creating a new area of research and center of excellence for NASA Kennedy Space Center.

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