NASA SBIR 2008 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 08-1 X4.01-9369
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Low Temperature Mechanisms
PROPOSAL TITLE: Low Friction Surfaces for Low Temperature Applications

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Lynntech, Inc.
7610 Eastmark Drive
College Station, TX 77840 - 4023
(979) 693-0017

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Alan Cisar
7610 Eastmark Drive
College Station, TX 77840 - 4023
(979) 693-0017

Expected Technology Readiness Level (TRL) upon completion of contract: 3

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Lunar and other extraterrestrial environments put extreme demands on moving mechanical components. Gears must continue to function and surfaces must continue to slide over a wide temperature range, the low end of which renders most conventional lubricants solidified while the high end vaporizes them, especially in a vacuum. Extremely long service lives are needed, and dust can cause abrasive damage. The solution is to use a high lubricity wear resistant solid, but not even all solid lubricants are suitable for the full range of challenges.

We propose to use a novel electrocodeposition process to produce a quasicrystalline coating on the surface of metal parts. Quasicrystals are a unique family of alloys having symmetries found nowhere else. They are exceptionally hard, with low surface energies. Quasicrystalline coatings have been demonstrated to be stable over wide temperature ranges and to have low friction over the entire range. Our process produces solid, high-density, low friction coatings on a variety of metal substrates. The coatings are stable for the long periods needed to achieve long operating lives. They are applied under relatively mild conditions using readily available equipment and can be applied to substrates of any shape or size.

In this project we will demonstrate the application of low friction coatings to gear alloys and show their low friction and wear properties over a temperature range that extends from above ambient to cryogenic.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The initial NASA target application for electrodeposited quasicrystal coatings is as a high lubricity surface suitable for use at all temperatures with no risk of loss of lubricant due to evaporation, even in a hard vacuum. Additional potential applications include locations where the temperature concerns are less severe, but the gears or sliding surfaces must remain free to move for long periods of time, times sufficiently long that a fluid lubricant could deteriorate, be lost, or just puddle up from surface tension and fail to properly coat the working surfaces.

These applications can be on the surface of extraterrestrial bodies or in space.

Quasicrystalline coatings aren't just for low temperature applications. These materials are stable to above 650 oC. This makes them suitable for many high temperature applications as well, including applications where conventional fluid lubricants would be oxidized or thermally decomposed.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
While commercial space craft do not comprise a large market for these lubricants, there are many other applications available where the high durability and lubricity of electrocodeposited quasicrystal coatings have promise. These include many types of machine equipment and other devices with moving parts, especially those operating in harsh environments or where access to the components is difficult making regular lubrication challenging.

One completely unrelated application that makes use of these properties is as a non-stick coating for cookware that can be cleaned and scoured like a conventional metal pan. Extensive testing is already under way for this application.

NASA's technology taxonomy has been developed by the SBIR-STTR program to disseminate awareness of proposed and awarded R/R&D in the agency. It is a listing of over 100 technologies, sorted into broad categories, of interest to NASA.


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