| Volume 12, Number 1 2005
Opportunity for Partnership
A tool designed to alert airline analysts to potential, unanticipated problems and to enhance safety and reliability in the industry is available for licensing.
Scientists at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., have developed a "Morning Report" that automatically identifies atypical, or statistically extreme flights, and enable airline flight operations quality assurance (FOQA) analysts to recognize the precursors of incidents or accidents.
"The Morning Report offers a promising method for identifying unanticipated problems and opportunities in flight data recorded by commercial aircraft," says Thomas Chidester, Aviation Performance Measuring System manager at Ames. "The Morning Report implements concepts from flight science and statistics into practical applications usable in industry."
Only a small portion of the data generated by flights is analyzed through the identification of situations in which aircraft operate outside predefined ranges. The Morning Report tool has the potential to interpret more aircraft data for improved analysis. Unlocking information contained in data sets could conceivably enhance safety, reliability and the economics of flight operations.
The tool provides airline quality assurance personnel with a list of atypical flights in an easy tabular format, highlighting the most extreme five percent. These can include groups of flights experiencing operational problems or individual flights encountering unique situations. FOQA analysts examine highlighted flights to determine the nature of the problems.
"Our goal is to focus the limited time of experts on analyzing the most operationally significant events, while broadening and deepening their analytical capabilities," says Chidester. "The challenge is finding and understanding key information from the mass of data generated by aircraft and collected by data recorders."
The Morning Report has attracted the attention of industry-leading providers of flight data-analysis software looking to improve their analysis tools. SAGEM Avionics of Grand Prairie, Texas, is the first to license the technology.
"The licensing of this analysis tool from NASA to SAGEM Avionics is another shining example of how NASA-developed technologies are transferred to the private sector to help benefit the American people," says Lisa Lockyer, chief of Ames' Technology Partnerships Division.
NASA's Aviation System Monitoring and Modeling Project under the Aviation Safety and Security Program developed the Morning Report tool. NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate in Hampton, Va., manages the research.
For more information, contact Mario Perez, Ames Research Center, (650) 604-3778, Mariano.M.Perez@nasa.gov.
Piezoelectric Microvalve Technologies
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory is looking for partners to further develop a suite of piezoelectric microvalve technologies.
Two of the technologies have been optimized for precision control of gas flow, with the other two developed for precision control of liquid flow. These technologies allow for the advanced applications originally envisioned for microvalves, particularly in the areas of precision gas and chemical flow control for semiconductor manufacturing, precision dispensing for the life science applications and for applications in micro total analysis systems.
The applications for these active-valve technologies are myriad and include: semiconductor processing where a need exists for normally closed gas microvalves to control the flow of dry-etch gases (for example, microvalves could be components of pressure-based mass flow controllers, vacuum leak-rate shut-off valves and pressure regulators; lab-on-a-chip and micro total analysis systems where low leak rates are required for liquids flowing under high pressure (for example, in chemical and biological monitoring systems and in-situ analysis for both medical and environmental applications where valves must control the flow of molecules); use in the microfluidics that feed samples into a gas chromatograph/mass spectrometer; use in miniature dosing systems for manufacturing and for implantation in veins; use in micro coolers for electronics; use in miniature liquid sample collectors such as those used in oral fluid diagnostics; use in micro-fuel cell/bioreactors for portable electronics; use in DNA sequencing and sorting where microvalves may be needed for integration of a DNA sequencer with other modules of a fully integrated system; and use in fluidic MEMS in general wherever a precise amount of fluid is required. The microvalves have been designed, fabricated, and laboratory tested.
The four technologies offered are designs for fabricating microvalves and are closely related. All of the technologies share these unique features:
The piezoelectric actuator is separately constructed and is then bonded to the rest of the valve body.
The designs employ the use of applied pressure to increase the sealing force.
The designs are optimized for high-pressure operation.
Narrow-edge, "multiple concentric circles" valve seat design and soft material valve body design minimize leakage formerly caused by particulates.
The microvalve is normally closed.
Piezoelectric actuation provides fast response time – less than 50 milliseconds; low-power consumption – 3 milliwatts at 30V and 2.5 at 20V and 100 milliwatts at 100 cycles per second; and flow control – valve opening controlled by voltage applied to actuator.
The benefits of the technologies include:
Normally closed gas microvalves make possible the control of the flow of dry-etch gases for semiconductor processing.
Very low leak rate microvalves, which meet precision flow criterion for fluids passing through microchannels at high pressures, will improve lab-on-a-chip and micro total analysis systems.
Valve seat and boss design can dramatically reduce the ability of flow particulates present in DNA and cell sorting to stick on the valve seat and create leak paths.
Low-power operation permits longer battery life, or a smaller battery for battery-operated applications, which will reduce cost.
MEMS processing enables low-cost production and small unit size.
The increase in stroke permits a higher flow rate and accommodation of larger particulates, which makes this technology applicable for many commercial microfluidic applications.
For more information, contact Michelle Dougherty, National Technology Transfer Center, (800) 678-6882, email@example.com.