NASA is developing common launch infrastructure to support multiple types of rockets. In order to reduce cost and simplify service, automation of multiple processes is highly desirable. In this approach, improved NASA Autonomous Control Technologies will perform functions such as anomaly and fault detection, fault isolation, and diagnostics and prognostics for critical components. Our focus is propellant management systems, since loss of integrity in propellant lines can have tragic consequences, as demonstrated by the Space Shuttle Challenger accident, which was caused by a faulty O-ring. AT-Tek’s “smart seal” technology will answer the clear need for instrumented monitoring of critical seal components of propellant delivery systems. AT-Tek’s Phase II effort will advance the smart seal technology developed during Phase-I, taking advantage of dramatic increases in the sensitivity of detection of critical seal parameters. Compact electronics built into flange/clamp assemblies will be developed to wirelessly and remotely interrogate smart seals. The integrated smart seal package will self-monitor such parameters as compression and elasticity of the seal material, both of which are critical for preventing seal failures. AT-Tek’s technology will enable detection of a degraded seal before actual failure, and provide for preventative adjustments of process parameters (pressure, temperature, etc.), or a bypass of the degrading connection without aborting the process. These capabilities will minimize risk of seal failures, even if maintenance of the degrading seal is not readily possible. The ultimate goal of this innovation is to integrate smart seals into autonomous propellant management infrastructure, and implement Condition-Based Maintenance (contra time-based) of critical elastomer seals for the first time.
Ground launch operations . The focus of this innovation is to introduce smart seal in the autonomous propellant management infrastructure that are under current NASA development to reduce operations and maintenance costs of ground and payload operations.
Life support and habitation systems . Maintaining airtight barrier between internal space of a habitat and external environment, found on planetary surfaces, asteroids, moon or outer space is of critical importance. Smart seal can also be used in next generation Space suit.
Nuclear power plants: Multiple critical seals in nuclear power plants. Natural gas pipelines: The seals are a frequent cause of leaks in pipeline valves. Smart seals can address this deficiency. Smart factories: the current trend toward development of “smart factories” within the concept of the Industrial Internet of Things requires novel sensors that monitor the condition of critical components.