Tuesday, May 21, 2024

NASA invents new 3D-printable superalloy 

NASA’s groundbreaking superalloy, designed for the extreme conditions of air and spaceflight, is poised to yield significant commercial benefits. The agency is licensing its innovation, known as “GRX-810,” to four American companies, contributing to the nation’s economy and providing a return on taxpayer investment. 

“GRX-810” is a 3D-printable high-temperature material that will result in stronger, more resilient aircraft and spacecraft components capable of withstanding greater stress before reaching their limits.

The co-exclusive license agreements will enable the companies to manufacture and market GRX-810 to airplane and rocket equipment manufacturers and the entire supply chain.

GRX-810 represents just one of the many new technologies reviewed and patented by NASA’s Technology Transfer Program managers. The team also collaborates with inventors to identify partners interested in commercialization.

“NASA invests tax dollars into research that demonstrates direct benefit to the U.S. and transfers its technologies to industry by licensing its patents,” said Amy Hiltabidel, licensing manager at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland.

NASA engineers have developed a groundbreaking superalloy, designated as GRX-810, specifically tailored for demanding aerospace applications. This innovative material is capable of withstanding extreme temperatures exceeding 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, making it ideal for use in liquid rocket engine injectors, combustors, turbines, and high-temperature components. 

“GRX-810 represents a new alloy design space and manufacturing technique that was impossible a few years ago,” said Dr. Tim Smith, materials researcher at NASA Glenn.

Through a time-efficient computer modeling and laser 3D-printing process, Smith and his colleague Christopher Kantzos have harnessed the potential of this superalloy, incorporating oxygen-enriched particles to significantly enhance its strength.

Compared to other nickel-base alloys, GRX-810 can endure higher temperatures and stress and can last up to 2,500 times longer. It’s also nearly four times better at flexing before breaking and twice as resistant to oxidation damage.

“Adoption of this alloy will lead to more sustainable aviation and space exploration,” said Dale Hopkins, deputy project manager of NASA’s Transformational Tools and Technologies project. “This is because the jet engine and rocket components made from GRX-810 will lower operating costs by lasting longer and improving overall fuel efficiency.”

Research and development teams from Glenn, NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley, The Ohio State University, and NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, work together to push the boundaries of space exploration. The most recent testing at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center included the use of cutting-edge 3D-printed rocket engine parts, showcasing the agency’s commitment to innovation.

NASA is at the forefront of developing technologies to overcome the challenges of space exploration, deepen our understanding of Earth, and enhance air transportation. With over 2,000 technologies spun off through patent licensing and other means, NASA is actively contributing to the growth of the American economy by enabling companies to transform these technologies into products and solutions.