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01-077
For Release: October 1, 2001

Pamelia Caswell
Media Relations Office
216/433-2901


Researchers Honored with R&D 100 Awards

Four research teams at the NASA Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio, have won R&D 100 Awards. Much coveted by the engineering development community, the awards, presented annually by R&D Magazine, honor the 100 most technologically significant new products of the year.

"The awards are a tribute to the exceptional creativity of the engineers and scientists at Glenn and to their commercialization efforts," said Glenn Center Director Donald J. Campbell. "We are especially pleased to note that the awards also recognize that the Center's work to help carryout NASA's many technologically advanced and difficult missions has applications right here on Earth."

Glenn's winning products are the ring cusp ion engine, ecoceramics, a multilayered coating for ceramics, and a long lasting silicon carbide fiber.

The developers of the ring cusp ion engine are Researchers James Sovey and Vincent Rawlin, and Aerospace Technician Robert Roman, now retired. Their 1984 design of the discharge chamber for an ion engine improved both the performance and durability of ion engines. The design has been used in 17 commercial satellites for making orbital adjustments, and in the Deep Space 1 ion engine that is propelling the probe toward its encounter with the comet Borelly.

Researcher Mrityunjay Singh, QSS Group, Inc., who works in Glenn's Materials Division, calls his winning product "ecoceramics," because they start with a renewable resource - wood or wood byproducts such as saw dust. The wood is fabricated by pyrolysis into preforms, which are then infiltrated with molten silicon or silicon alloys. The result is a strong, tough material and a low-cost alternative to traditional ceramics.

Materials Researchers Kang Lee, a resident research associate from Cleveland State University; James Smialek; Elizabeth Opila, also a resident research associate from Cleveland State University; Narottam Bansal; Nathan Jacobson; Robert Miller; Dennis Fox; and Craig Robinson, an onsite contract researcher employed by QSS Group, Inc., developed a multilayer coating with a corrosion-resistant topcoat that protects silicon-based ceramics from attack by water vapor in high-temperature combustion environments. Other partners in the development are General Electric Co., Evandale, Ohio, Pratt & Whitney, East Hartford, Conn., and Solar Turbines, Inc., San Diego, Calif. Their breakthrough technology has paved the way for the use of ceramic components, such as combustor liners, in gas turbine engines.

Materials researchers James DiCarlo, Hee Mann Yun a resident research associate from Cleveland State University, and John J. Brennan (retired), United Technologies Research Center, East Hartford, Conn., developed a new silicon carbide fiber with a thin, protective boron nitride coating and an internal microstructure more thermally stable than any other commercially available fiber. The fiber is produced by heat-treating a commercial fiber in yarn or fabric form in a nitrogen-containing environment. As reinforcement for silicon-based ceramic composites, the new fiber retains its high mechanical strength after composite fabrication and during long-term service under high-temperature oxidizing conditions.

The 2001 R&D 100 awards banquet will take place October 4 at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry.

NASA Glenn researchers haves distinguished the center by winning this prestigious award many times since the early 1960s. Of the116 awards to NASA, 81 of these have been for research and technology development at Glenn.

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