Technology Bulletin

Polymers fashioned to replace structural metals

A new family of rigid-rod polymers created by Maxdem, Inc., San Dimas, CA, is said to be more than four times stiffer than conventional plastic materials. Called Poly-X Self-Reinforced Polymers, the inexpensive, durable materials have the potential to replace structural metals-including aluminum and stainless steel-particularly in aerospace and defense applications. They could also substitute for expensive fiber-reinforced composites, says Matthew Marrocco, Maxdem's vice president of research and development. Unlike most composites, however, the rigid materials can be injection molded, extruded, or compressed. Estimated cost per lb: $10 to $12. Structural foams, coatings, films, and membranes made from the materials are on tap. Maxdem is seeking development partners. FAX Marrocco at (909) 394-0615.

'Shrinking' wavelets aid statistical modeling

The StatSci division of MathSoft, Seattle, will use funds from the National Science Foundation to produce a software module for statistical modeling and analysis based on "wavelet shrinkage." The software will run with StatSci's S-PLUS data analysis language for engineers and scientists. The recently developed wavelet transform is said to offer better data compression and noise-corrupted data filtering than its precursor, the fast Fourier transform (FFT). It should allow an engineer to decompose a noisy signal into components, then empirically reconstruct the signal to eliminate noise, while retaining signal components. FAX Lisa Eaton at (206) 283-8691.

Thermal technology promises to cut weight, costs

A new thermal management technology-microencapsulated phase change materials-should have a number of cost-saving, weight reducing uses in aerospace and commercial applications. The micron-sized MicroPCMs, produced by Frisby Technologies, Freeport, NY, consist of a heat-absorbing core material encapsulated within a proprietary, durable shell wall. Because of their size and wall formulations, they readily adapt as a thermally enhancing additive. When incorporated into a host material for end-product use, the MicroPCMs "create a dramatic improvement in thermal storage within the product-over 10x in solids and up to 40x in liquids," says Frisby CEO Greg Frisby. For example, in an avionics cooling application, a MicroPCM slurry reduced coolant flow rate by 40% and ECS electrical power by 58%. FAX Jennifer Olsen at (516) 378-0262.

Will glass fiber crash on the info superhighway?

Glass fiber continues to replace copper communication lines along the information superhighway. But, unlike metal, it is subject to static fatigue, a phenomenon in which stressed glass fibers can get tired and break. Under a contract from the Department of Energy, Minoru Tomozawa, a professor of materials engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, hopes to learn how such static fatigue occurs. He and other researchers have developed special coatings to keep out moisture and prevent fatigue, but they require an expensive extra manufacturing step. To more accurately predict how damage occurs and how long the lines will last would help companies decide how much to spend on such prevention. FAX Tomozawa at (518) 276-8554.

Inductor technology tackles harmonic currents

Marelco Power Systems, Howell, MI, has developed a new Variable Inductor Technology to trap and filter out harmonic currents from electrical circuits that can damage sensitive equipment. Previous inductor models in the same size range as the Marelco inductors

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