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Luna will be presenting at the upcoming Quantitative Nondestructive Evaluation Conference (QNDE, https://www.qndeprograms.org).  Begun in 1973, QNDE is the premier international NDE meeting designed to provide an interface between research and early engineering through the presentation of current ideas and results focused on facilitating a rapid transfer to engineering development.  Come join us in Provo, Utah at the Utah Valley Convention Center July 16-21 to learn about our ongoing work in nondestructive evaluation techniques.

This year at QNDE, researcher Matthew Webster will be presenting on Luna’s Nonlinear Pulse-Echo technique for Early Fatigue Detection in Inconel 718.  His talk will be held in Cascade D on Thursday July 20 at 4:50 pm.  Here’s a quick summary of Matthew’s presentation:

Identification of material damage in turbine engine components is essential for safe operation in extremely harsh service environments.  Current inspection protocols focus on identifying cracks during the last 20% of a component’s service life such that frequent inspections are required to ensure damage is detected prior to component failure.  In contrast, nonlinear ultrasonics techniques such as harmonic generation are capable of identifying precursors to cracking (e.g., lattice dislocations) during the first 10-20% of a components life.  However nonlinear ultrasonic measurements typically require large, specialized instrumentation and are limited to laboratory environments.  The goal of this program is to reduce the size and complexity of operating nonlinear ultrasonic systems in order to put these advanced non-destructive evaluation capabilities into the hands of field/depot inspectors. 

We look forward to seeing you there!

September 11-14, 2017
Orange County Convention Center | Orlando, FA
Booth #:  F89

http://www.thecamx.org/

Join us for a presentation!  

Extracting Information from Damaged Carbon Fiber Composites Using High Definition Fiber Optic Sensing (HD-FOS)

The availability of fresh water is recognized as a global issue of strategic relevance, with demand increasing due to factors like population growth and agricultural and industrial demands. Many conventional technologies such as reverse osmosis (RO) work well in established communities with infrastructure and wealth to fund their operation but are not cost-effective for poor or remote communities or when traditional infrastructure is down, as in the case of a natural disaster. Even with technologies like RO, there is also a pressing need for reducing the cost of larger-scale desalination.

Seawater desalination represents the most technologically reliable and sustainable way to produce drinkable water to supplement increasing demands on already overtaxed fresh water resources. The global desalination capacity is above 86.8 million m3/day[1] and is expected to reach about 180 million m3/day by 2024 and 280 million m3/day by 2030.[2] The market is dominated by reverse osmosis, which due to its high-pressure operation, (≥35 bars) requires that it utilize electricity and expensive high-pressure-rated pumps, tubing and membrane modules, being poorly suited in isolated impoverished environments.[3]

Membrane distillation (MD) is an emerging thermal, membrane-based separation process. The driving force is the vapor pressure difference across the hydrophobic macro-porous membrane, resulting in vapor flows from the feed to the permeate side, where it condenses. Because only vapor can permeate, non-volatile constituents like salt present in the influent water are almost 100% rejected. Furthermore, MD may be a promising alternative or at least a complement to RO, not being limited by osmotic phenomena and having the potential to produce desalted water at recovery factors higher than 85%. However, current MD technologies still suffer from high energy consumption and low water production rate due to low thermal efficiency caused, in part, by temperature polarization, heat loss through brine discharge, and feed temperature drop across the membrane module. One big hurdle to wide-spread commercialization of MD involves membrane fouling and degradation.

Figure 1: Solar MD Concept
Figure 1: Solar MD Concept

Luna is developing and demonstrating a third type of MD-based desalination processes –  nanophotonics enhanced direct solar membrane distillation (Figure 1). Our novel, green, solar powered water desalination process demonstrates high capability for seawater desalination with low energy consumption, driven entirely by the solar energy.

Luna’s nanophotonic technology is a unique approach to help resolve the current MD challenges. Luna combines varied nanosystems with commercially available, low-cost polymers to create a nanoenhanced MD membrane on an existing, commercially available MD membrane substrate.  This can then be housed in a very simple, low-cost plastic module to generate pure water from feed sources like seawater, brackish water, sewage/industrial run-offs and contaminated or otherwise undrinkable water. In this compact design, the high effeciency solor-thermal convesion material is integrated into the MD module for elimnation of the temperature polarization. Flat sheet membranes coated with our proprietery nanosystems are placed in a module with a transparent window and the hot water flux directly generated at the localized membrane surface under the solar irradiation. Unlike in traditional MD, where the driving force of vapor production (temperature difference) diminishes over the module length thereby leading to significantly lower water production in long and densely-packed MD modules, Luna’s process successfully overcomes this drawback. At laboratory demostration, our nanophotnic desalination process was able to achieve <175 ppm TDS (total dissolved solids) fresh water output at zero external energy consumption, which is <35% of the maximum TDS limit for drinking water of 500 ppm.[1]

Luna’s nanophotonic desalination technology uses inexpensive membranes already optimized for MD process. The membrane housing is also inexpensive due to its low-pressure requirements, as opposed to RO’s.  The housing is chemically stable and inert, thermally stable and durable, and adaptable to a variety of environments/conditions. Our all-in-one solar MD system does not need to have separate hot tanks, solar cells, membrane housings, or pumps in most cases.

The same enabling technology can also be used to make water of greater purity than even drinking water, such as for various medical applications. This is due to a combination of factors including almost complete rejection of non-volatile components and sterilization of the permeate vapor since the nanophotonic layer can create localized steam at above 121 °C.

Luna’s evolving nanophotonics enabling technology continues to be optimized to improve the performance and cost-effectiveness of this novel zero-energy water distillation process targeted to cost-effectively enhancing global RO systems and enabling broad utilization of small-scale distributed water production, meet the needs of remote/isolated communities in the military and civilian sectors, and help eliminate the lack of clean, drinking water suffered by many around the world.

 

 

 

 

 

1 http://idadesal.org/desalination-101/desalination-by-the-numbers/. Accessed 3/31/2017. 

2 http://www.nextbigfuture.com/2013/10/desalination-water-world.html.  Accessed 3/31/2017. 

3 “Analysis of Global Desalination Market,” Frost & Sullivan, September 2015 

4 Kalogirou, S. A. Seawater desalination using renewable energy sources. Progress in Energy and Combustion Science 2005, 31 (2005), 242–281.

 

 

Recent Advances Have Revolutionized Prosthetics

DARPA funded technologies seek to interface between novel prosthetics and the patient’s nervous system
DARPA funded technologies seek to interface between novel prosthetics and the patient’s nervous system

Significant advances in materials, sensors, and electronics, coupled with improved understanding of the nervous system, have resulted in prosthetics that are able to mimic the natural movement and function of the lost limb of an amputee. New research has demonstrated the ability for these devices to communicate directly with the brain and provide the sensation of touch via the insertion of electrodes into the patient’s brain. Ongoing Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) programs seek to advance this technology even further by linking the prosthetic to nerve endings in the stump of the amputation, providing motor and sensory communication between the device and the brain. However, before these exciting prosthetic technologies can be utilized by wounded veterans, DARPA needs a method to “plug” the devices into the existing nervous system. If the material doesn’t accurately match the mechanical properties of nerve tissue, it may shred the nerve and result in scarring, bleeding, or neuronal damage.

bioCXN™ Can Provide the Needed Solution for Connecting to Nerves

Schematic of bioCXN™ - Luna’s advanced soft biointerface material
Schematic of bioCXN™ – Luna’s advanced soft biointerface material

Luna is developing an ultraflexible material with the biologic and electronic properties required to interface with the nervous system. In partnership with Dr. Ken Yoshida of Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis, Luna is developing “bioCXN” – a fibrous material system that provides compositional flexibility and better matches the mechanical properties of native nerve tissue without compromising electronic functionality.

This research is being sponsored by DARPA under the HAPTIX program. Luna has demonstrated a significant reduction in elastic modulus and has achieved bulk material conductivities within 10x that required for use in vivo.  Luna has investigated a variety of chemistries that provide varying biologic, electronic, and mechanical properties for this advanced material system.

Luna’s bioCXN is Widely Applicable for Novel Flexible Electronics

Though this exciting material technology is currently being developed for implementation with existing neural interface designs, it is an adaptable materials solution that may also be applicable to other neural and biological interfacing technologies in the future. The flexibility and cloth-like nature of this material also opens the possibility for application in wearable sensor applications, including breathable, non-woven materials with integrated sensing components that maintain similar mechanical properties to their carrier. Luna envisions potential applications in the development of performance tracking textiles for interfacing with apps to track motion, heart rate, and sleeping patterns, or sensors for diagnostic sensing and detection of neurodegenerative diseases. The comparatively low-cost nature of the material production process enables a wide array of potential applications outside the neural interfacing market.

This material is based upon work supported by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency under Contract No D16PC00095. The views, opinions and/or findings expressed are those of the author and should not be interpreted as representing the official views or policies of the Department of Defense or the U.S. Government.

 

 

Brad Brooks and Zhiguo Zhou, Luna Labs

Venomous snakes are found all over the world.  In the tropical world, where they are most abundant and there is limited access to emergent medical care, they are a significant threat to public health. The World Health Organization (WHO) has designated “snakebites” as a Neglected Tropical Disease, seriously injuring 2.7 million men, women and children, and claiming some 125,000 lives every year.1  There are more than 600 species of venomous snakes worldwide, and over 200 are considered medically important by the WHO.

Figure 1: Global distribution of venomous snakes, www.who.int
Figure 1: Global distribution of venomous snakes, www.who.int

Current treatments require species-specific antivenom, so even though total envenomations (bites with injection of venom) can be high worldwide, the market for any one antivenom is relatively small.  Wyeth Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Pfizer) stopped producing CSAV that was primarily used to treat North American coral snake envenomations. And Sanofi stopped supplying Fav-Afrique, the only antivenom proven safe and effective to treat snake bites in Sub-Saharan regions.  In addition, the antivenom manufacture uses animals (e.g. goats and horses) so the serum immunoglobulin needs to be refrigerated and administered in an intensive care unit (ICU) to deal with “serum sickness”, the patient’s rejection of the animal antibodies. 

All of these factors – low competition, high manufacturing costs, and high administration costs in an ICU – lead to very expensive treatment for snake bites.  US hospitals can charge more than $150,000 to treat one snake bite. In at least one instance more than half of the charges (~$83,000) went to pharmacy costs for the antivenom medicine.23

Ideally a single antivenom medicine would offer broad spectrum protection against common venomous species without the need for accurate species identification. And it would be stored and safely administered anywhere in the world.  To meet this need, Luna is developing a synthetic universal antivenom. Using biomimetic “sticky” nanoparticles, Luna’s antivenom selectively captures a broad range of venomous toxins that are primarily responsible for its lethality and local tissue damages. The sequestered toxins are neutralized and removed from the body naturally, reducing the overall concentration and enhancing the survival rate. Nanoparticles, due to their high surface area to mass ratio, dramatically increase the neutralizing capacity compared to that of immunoglobulin. Current treatments typically require continuous intravenous infusion of hundreds if not thousands of milliliters of saline that contains multiple grams of immunoglobulins over a period of several hours.  While still under preclinical investigation, the higher surface area of the nanoparticles could mean a reduction of antivenom dose and a shorter time to take effect.

The synthetic nanoparticle approach is a practically useful method for producing clinically relevant quantities of antivenom at very low costs starting with readily available compounds. These nanoparticles are stable at ambient conditions, eliminating the need of cold chain transport and storage (refrigeration), which is a huge benefit for emergent medicines in rural tropics and other resource-limited regions.

Luna’s antivenom drug candidate is currently being evaluated in preclinical animal studies for safety and efficacy. Representative snake venoms from the elapidae (e.g. mamba and cobra) and viperidae (e.g. puff adder) families are used to test its efficacy in WHO recommended animal models. If successful, the antivenom nanomedicine will provide much needed help for civilians in high risk regions and may also add a unique medical countermeasure capability to the U.S. military Special Operational Forces who are deployed in austere areas of Africa and Asia and are particularly at risk for encounters with venomous snakes. This universal antivenom technology is funded by the Department of Defense through its DARPA SBIR program.

  1. http://www.snakebiteinitiative.org/
  2. http://www.cnbc.com/2015/07/21/hospital-appears-to-charge-153000-to-treat-snakebite.html
  3. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/rattlesnake-selfie-results-in-a-153k-medical-bill/

Reducing the Costs of Aircraft Corrosion

Corrosion prevention and control represents a significant driver of costs for the United States Armed Forces.  For the Air Force alone, multi-billion dollar annual expenditures are needed to combat corrosion of aircraft.  The most effective means of corrosion control is through protective coatings.  In partnership with the Air Force though the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program Luna has developed a new technology that improves upon laboratory evaluation of aerospace coatings.  The Corrosion and Coatings Evaluation System (CorRES) offers a better way to measure the ability of coatings to protect aircraft structures from corrosion, which can lead to accelerated development and adoption of high performance coatings (Figure 1).  CorRES was recently featured by the Air Force as a SBIR Transition Success Story (https://www.sbir.gov/node/1246401).

CorRES_test_rack
Figure 1. The Corrosion and Coating Evaluation System (CorRES) test rack and docking platform assembly with multi-sensor panel array, standard test panels, and mass loss coupons.

 

Conventional Coating Tests Are Lacking

Existing test methods are subjective measures of coating performance.  They rely on relatively simple visual inspections of coated test panels.  There is no quantifiable result of the robustness of the coatings and corrosion inhibitors during accelerated tests.  Consequently, the ability of developers or users to compare the relative performance of various coatings and select the most effective system for a given application is decreased.

The Future of Coating Testing

Our CorRES measures the ability of coatings to protect aircraft structures quantitatively.  It can be applied in any environment currently utilized for coating evaluation testing including at outdoor exposure sites or within accelerated test chambers.  Sensor panels, which are prepared, painted, and tested like traditional panels, are used to measure the ability of a coating to protect a substrate from the environment as well as inhibit corrosion at a defect (Figure 2).  Measurements include the barrier properties of the intact coating and the corrosion rate of the engineering alloy or dissimilar metal couple of interest at a defect.

Multi-sensor_panel.png
Figure 2. Multi-sensor panel with interdigitated electrode (IDE) sensors to quantify coating barrier properties (Gold [Au] IDE), free corrosion rate of an engineering alloy (Aluminum [Al] IDE fabricated from AA7075-T6) and galvanic corrosion (Aluminum/Stainless Steel [Al/SS] IDE fabricated from AA7075-T6 and 316 stainless steel).

 

Corrosion and Coating Sensors Are Available Now for Purchase Online

The CorRES system and accessories, in addition to our corrosion monitoring system, are available for purchase online at https://devstore.lunainc.com/ .

 

This material is based upon work supported by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory under Contract No. FA8501-13-C-0026.  The content of the information does not necessarily reflect the position of the policy of the Government, and no official endorsement should be inferred.

Luna will be presenting and exhibiting at the upcoming 2017 DoD Allied Nations Technical Corrosion Conference (http://www.dodcorrcon.org/).  Attendees of the conference collaborate to form a better understanding of corrosion’s impact on DoD equipment and infrastructure.  Come join us in Birmingham, AL at the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Center August 7-10 to learn about our ongoing work to combat corrosion and its effects on our military. 

In addition to three presentations, Luna will also have an exhibit booth set up in the conference exhibit hall.  We’ll be located at booth #202 in the conference center, and will have samples and demonstrations of our latest corrosion test, evaluation, and control technologies.

Patrick Kramer, Adam Goff, and Fritz Friedersdorf will each be presenting on Luna’s work at the conference:

Patrick will present Luna’s work on “Corrosion Measurements under Atmospheric Conditions”.  This presentation is scheduled for 9:00 am on Wednesday, August 9 in Corrosion Technology Track.  This talk is part of the Accelerated and Outdoor Exposure Testing Technical Session.

Adam is presenting on “Durable, Hydrophobic Surface Treatment for Enhanced Corrosion Protection of Landing Gear”.  The talk is scheduled for Wednesday, August 9 as part of the Corrosion Technology Technical Track, Specialty Coatings Technical Session in room East B.

Fritz is presenting on “Sensors and Measurement Systems for Coatings Performance Testing” Tuesday, August 8 at 8:00 am.  His talk is part of the Corrosion Technology Technical Track in the Surface Preparation & Pretreatments Technical Session.

Be sure to check the schedule at http://www.dodcorrcon.org/ to get the most up to date presentation times and locations.  We look forward to seeing you there!