NASA Glenn’s SMARS Technology

NASA Glenn’s SMARS Technology

Agency: 
NASA

Glenn's SMARS device is ideally suited to break up rock formations as part of oil and gas drilling projects. (Photo credit: NASA)

Laboratory: NASA Glenn Research Center

Technology: Shape Memory Alloy Rock Splitters (SMARS)

Opportunity: NASA is accepting applications to license its unique SMARS technology.

Details:

NASA's Glenn Research Center has developed a groundbreaking method for using shape memory alloys (SMAs) to split apart rock formations without explosives or hydraulics. Conventional approaches present difficulties in transportation and operation, and can badly damage underlying samples during use. Glenn's innovation exploits cutting-edge SMA compositions to deliver controllable stresses of more than 1500 megapascals (MPa), which is up to four times greater than the force exerted by commercial equiatomic SMAs. 

Benefits:

  • Powerful: Produces stresses that are four to five times more powerful than commercial equiatomic nickel-titanium (NiTi) alloys generate.
  • Controllable: Causes no demolition or vibration damage to the surrounding environment or other nearby projects.
  • Convenient: Needs little setup and activation compared to other static methods, such as chemical agents, which can take days to react.
  • Simple and Safe: Requires only heat input to activate; no complex valve systems or hydraulic fluids are needed.
  • Compact: Has small volume and extremely low weight.
  • Versatile: Features portability and setup advantages that allow it to be used in spaces that heavy equipment cannot access.
  • Reusable: Reverts to original deformation when cooled, and can be reshaped so the SMA material can be recovered and reused.

Applications:

  • Oil drilling
  • Hydraulic fracturing, including use as a proppant
  • Mining, particularly gemstone and precious metal mining
  • Offshore exploration
  • Civil engineering
  • Paleontological projects, including fossil collection
  • Search-and-rescue operations
  • Commercial space

Contact: For more information on this NASA technology, contact grc-techtransfer@mail.nasa.gov.

To view the original SMARS technology fact sheet, visit https://technology.grc.nasa.gov/patent/LEW-TOPS-87.

Region: 
Midwest