Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

NASA Partnership Produces Technology Breakthrough That Allows On-the-spot Chemical Analysis

May 17, 2004
NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center
Marshall Center engineers have teamed with KeyMaster Technologies, Kennewick, Wash., to develop a portable vacuum analyzer that weighs just 4 pounds and performs on-the-spot chemical analyses under field conditions. The new capability is important not only to the aerospace industry, but holds potential for broad applications in any industry that depends on materials analysis.

The Vacuum Enhanced X-ray Fluorescent Scanner, developed by Marshall engineers and KeyMaster Technologies, Kennewick, Wash., is portable, weighs about 4 pounds, and is capable of detailed chemical analysis, even under field conditions.
Credit: Photo KeyMaster

Collaboration between NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center and an industry partner has resulted in development of a portable vacuum X-ray fluorescent analyzer that performs on-the-spot chemical analyses — a task previously only possible in a chemical laboratory.

Marshall engineers in Huntsville, Ala., teamed with KeyMaster Technologies of Kennewick, Wash., to develop a "chemistry lab in your hand" that weighs about 4 pounds and is capable of detailed material analysis, even under field conditions. This capability promises to be a boon to the aerospace community because of unique requirements — for instance, the need to analyze Space Shuttle propulsion systems on the launch pad. Those systems provide the awe-inspiring rocket power that propels the Space Shuttle from Earth into orbit in mere minutes.

The newly developed vacuum X-ray fluorescent analyzer can identify and characterize a wide range of elements, and is capable of detecting chemical elements with low atomic numbers — such as sodium, aluminum and silicon. It is the only hand-held product on the market with that capability. Aluminum alloy verification is of particular interest to NASA because vast amounts of high-strength aluminum alloys are used in the Space Shuttle propulsion system — the External Tank, Main Engine and Solid Rocket Boosters.

"Being able to bring a full analytical chemical laboratory to something as large as a Solid Rocket Booster and determine alloy constituents to an accuracy of four decimal places is a major breakthrough," said Fred Schramm, technology utilization manager in Marshall 's Technology Transfer Department. Schramm worked closely with Keymaster to develop the hand-held scanner.

The scanner also detects difficult-to-identify contaminants such as silicon, which can be detrimental to welding operations, but which now can be identified and removed before the welding process begins. Also, paint and other coatings won't adhere to surfaces if silicon is

present. The scanner will provide on-the-spot identification to allow silicon removal before applying primer coating to hardware such as the Shuttle's Solid Rocket Boosters.

The scanner development also marks a major improvement in the quality assurance field, because screws, nuts, bolts, fasteners and other items can now be evaluated upon receipt and rejected if found to be substandard. The same holds true for aluminum weld rods.

"On-the-spot analysis to identify possible counterfeiting or otherwise unacceptable parts at the distributor or process entry level will revolutionize the capability of NASA quality assurance and production operations to detect material problems at receiving inspection points, on the shop floor and in the field," said Schramm.

Three vacuum X-ray fluorescent hand-held scanners are already being used in the Space Shuttle Program. The External Tank Project Office is using one for aluminum alloy analysis, while a Marshall contractor is evaluating alloys with another unit purchased for the Space Shuttle Main Engine Office. The Reusable Solid Rocket Motor Project Office has obtained a scanner that is being used to test hardware and analyze materials.

The product has potential for a broad application in other industries, especially those that depend heavily on materials analysis — such as the automotive and pharmaceutical industries. Materials can be scanned as they come in the door and faulty products rejected. Corrosion can even be detected through paint. And with the extended detection range of the scanner, many chemical blending processes can be evaluated real time with high accuracy.

"The ability to validate the integrity of raw materials and partially finished products before adding value to them in the manufacturing process will be of benefit not only to businesses, but also to the consumer, who will have access to a higher value product at a cheaper price," Schramm said.

KeyMaster's work in developing the scanner technology with NASA was enabled by the agency's Technology Transfer Program resulting in an exclusive license. For more information about the X-ray fluorescent analyzer, contact Keymaster's John Landefeld, 509-783-9850. For more information about licensing agreements with NASA, contact Sammy Nabors, 256-544-5226.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Cite This Page:

NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center. "NASA Partnership Produces Technology Breakthrough That Allows On-the-spot Chemical Analysis." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 May 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/05/040517073230.htm>.
NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center. (2004, May 17). NASA Partnership Produces Technology Breakthrough That Allows On-the-spot Chemical Analysis. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/05/040517073230.htm
NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center. "NASA Partnership Produces Technology Breakthrough That Allows On-the-spot Chemical Analysis." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/05/040517073230.htm (accessed August 2, 2014).

Share This

More Matter & Energy News

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Tesla, Panasonic Ink Deal To Make Huge Battery 'Gigafactory'

Tesla, Panasonic Ink Deal To Make Huge Battery 'Gigafactory'

Newsy (July 31, 2014) The deal will help build a massive battery factory that Tesla says will produce 500,000 lithium batteries by 2020. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

AP (July 30, 2014) British officials said on Wednesday that driverless cars will be tested on roads in as many as three cities in a trial program set to begin in January. Officials said the tests will last up to three years. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
7 Ways to Use Toothpaste: Howdini Hacks

7 Ways to Use Toothpaste: Howdini Hacks

Howdini (July 30, 2014) Fresh breath and clean teeth are great, but have you ever thought, "my toothpaste could be doing more". Well, it can! Lots of things! Howdini has 7 new uses for this household staple. Video provided by Howdini
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smoked: 2015 Ducati Diavel Vs 2014 Chevy Corvette Stingray Drag Race

Smoked: 2015 Ducati Diavel Vs 2014 Chevy Corvette Stingray Drag Race

Cycle World (July 30, 2014) The Bonnier Motorcycle Group presents Smoked; a three part video series. In this episode the 2015 Ducati Diavel takes on the 2014 Chevy Corvette Stingray Video provided by Cycle World
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.


Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News


Free Subscriptions

Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile

Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?

Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins