Invention of the Year

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Government Award Winner

Award Title:

Toughened Uni-piece Fibrous Reduced Oxidation Ceramic (TUFROC) Light-Weight Thermal Protection System For Use On Space Vehicles During Atmospheric Entry At Hypersonic Speed

Lead NASA Center:

Ames Research Center (ARC)

Award Category:

Government

Case Number:

ARC-15201-1

Summary:

  • A lightweight, two-piece thermal protection system successfully demonstrated on the X37B flight vehicle.
  • It consists of a high temperature, impregnated carbonaceous cap mechanically attached to a lightweight fibrous silica-base material.
  • The key innovations enable the integration of the surface treated carbon cap with the silica base insulation, which would otherwise fail from mechanical, chemical or thermal factors.

Commercial Award Winner

Award Title:

Solar-Powered Refrigeration System

Lead NASA Center:

Johnson Space Center (JSC)

Award Category:

Commercial

Case Number:

MSC-22970-1

Summary:

  • The solar-powered refrigerator uses a high efficiency, variable speed direct current (DC) vapor compression cooling system without a battery.
  • Electronic controls directly connect the refrigerator's solar photovoltaic (PV) panel to its compressor.
  • Able to bridge night time lack of solar power due to well-insulated cabinet and generous thermal storage capability.
  • This invention provides a practical new refrigeration system using only solar power, independent of electric grid or battery, thereby reducing weight and lowering transportation and maintenance cost.