Florida Firm Licenses NASA Expertise That Retains Electronics Cool

From shutting down unexpectedly to exploding, electronics can wreak havoc after they overheat. A Florida-based firm referred to as Protodromics LLC has licensed a NASA expertise that takes benefit of a bodily pressure referred to as electrohydrodynamics (EHD) to pump water or different fluids and funky overheated electronics. Because of the expertise’s low energy consumption, modular nature, and small measurement, it may be embedded into quite a lot of digital units, together with ultra-cold storage containers, drones, and spacecraft devices.

This picture reveals the Protection Division’s experiment pallet, STP-H5, hanging on the finish of Canada’s robotic arm throughout set up on the skin of the Worldwide House Station. The EHD pump expertise flew on the STP-H5 mission as a part of a Goddard bundle of experiments in 2017. Picture credit score: NASA

“Thermal management is a major limiting think about digital energy consumption at this time, and this expertise seeks to beat a few of these limitations,” mentioned Eric McGill, a senior expertise supervisor with the Strategic Partnerships Office at NASA’s Goddard House Flight Middle in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The micro-scale EHD modular cartridge pump, or EHD pump for brief, makes use of electrical fields to maneuver fluid in a thermal loop, which dissipates extra warmth and retains electronics operating easily. As a result of the EHD pump is small and consumes little energy, it has a variety of potential functions. The pump can combine with pc chips for a seamless design.

“When electronics get too scorching, they should gradual efficiency or shut down,” mentioned Adam Wexler, founder and CEO of Protodromics. “For a gaming pc, it’s a mere annoyance, nevertheless it’s a critical factor if the motor of your drone overheats and shuts down mid-flight.”

Whereas pursuing his graduate diploma, Wexler studied the interplay of water and electrical fields, together with an EHD phenomenon that makes water “float” by making use of excessive voltage to 2 beakers of distilled water. Wexler discovered Goddard thermal engineer Jeffrey Didion’s work on-line and coordinated with Goddard to license the EHD pump in 2020. Now, with help from Florida enterprise incubator Groundswell Startups, he’s exploring methods the expertise could be infused into numerous industrial functions.

“One nice function of this tech is its capacity to pump fluids very effectively via tiny areas,” Wexler mentioned. “We’re use instances resembling the facility modules for electrical autos, the place eradicating the extremely concentrated warmth is necessary for vary in addition to reliability.”

The pump is a component of a bigger, ongoing challenge learning EHD pressure, with {hardware} improvement run by Didion and analysis headed by Jamal Yagoobi of Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Massachusetts. Their work started in 1992, and so they’ve taken their analysis from scientific idea to thermal {hardware} demonstrations on the Worldwide House Station.

“The pump itself was constructed solely at Goddard,” Didion mentioned, “from meeting to integration and testing.”

Protodromics is collaborating with a College of Florida initiative referred to as the Innovation Fellows Program, which brings collectively engineering and enterprise college students to develop new tasks or applied sciences. Collectively, they’re learning how the EHD pump may meet the thermal challenges of high-performance edge computing to spice up the reliability of 5G networks and factories that make the most of synthetic intelligence. The EHD pump additionally has demonstrated potential in addressing efficiency limitations for electrical autos, a market anticipated to expertise international progress in future years.

Whereas potential market alternatives abound, Wexler mentioned his firm will give attention to manufacturing within the coming months. Protodromics will proceed to review the way to flip NASA’s EHD pump design right into a product that may be manufactured at scale and modified to accommodate an assortment of functions. Wexler mentioned that applied sciences just like the EHD pump additional the sector of additive manufacturing or 3D printing, which he sees as advancing expertise capabilities in house and on Earth.

“It’s been incredible to study in regards to the Startup NASA license and the way accessible NASA’s expertise is,” Wexler mentioned. “I’m excited to take this expertise that Goddard has created and produce it to the market.”

The EHD pump was invented by Matthew Showalter, Jeffrey Didion, Mario Martins, and Franklin Robinson, all members of the Mechanical Programs Division at Goddard. NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., offered funding for expertise demonstrations aboard the house station and on NASA plane. Further funding sources embody the Goddard Inside Analysis and Growth Program.

To study extra about NASA’s Expertise Switch program and house applied sciences obtainable for license, please go to: https://technology.nasa.gov

By Amy Klarup
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

Supply: NASA

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