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NASA - Advances in Structures
April 16, 2008

Structures research and technology at the NASA Glenn Research Center aims to provide innovative concepts with commercial potential for the structural and mechanical components of aeropropulsion, space propulsion turbomachinery and space power systems. We focus on problems that occur when these components operate at very high or low temperatures, in potentially damaging environments, and at high stresses. Our goals are reliable operation, fewer deficiencies, less time from design to production, and lower costs. Structures research and technology includes machinery dynamics, life prediction, computer-based simulation and design, and testing and evaluation.

In machinery dynamics, we are developing methods and mechanical systems to control instabilities and vibrations that can damage turbomachinery. We are also developing dynamic design and analysis tools, and new designs for extended-life mechanical components.

In life prediction, we are developing models for predicting the life of structures and failure theories for evaluating the durability and integrity of structural components manufactured from advanced high-temperature materials. These materials include advanced metallics and monolithic ceramics, as well as polymeric, metallic/intermetallic and ceramic matrix composites.

In computer-based simulation and design, we are developing tools to model important structural components and systems. We are using multidisciplinary design-optimization methods to tailor materials and the shape of components for specific applications, and we are evaluating performance from the time that materials are selected for a system to when the system is no longer used.

In testing and evaluation, we are studying samples of advanced aeropropulsion materials to see what causes deformation and damage in these materials; and we are looking at portions of systems under simulated loading conditions to confirm that our analytical models and analysis methods are valid.

Our research includes

  • Structural mechanics concepts
  • Environmental durability
  • Fatigue and fracture (life and reliability prediction)
  • Turbomachinery structural dynamics
  • Tribological (friction and wear) concepts
  • Computational and structures
  • Structures laboratory facilities
  • Surface analysis, texturing and thin-film technology

Commercial applications include advanced automobile and truck engines, long-life ceramic heat exchangers, power-generating industries, the glass industry, electronics, and advanced alloy saw blades for the U.S. lumber industry.

Related web pages:

+ Materials and Structures Division
+ Life Prediction Branch

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Page Last Updated: July 28th, 2013
Page Editor: NASA Administrator