NASA Tech Brief:INSIDER 4/16

已有 8695 次阅读 2009-4-17 16:22 |个人分类:海外来鸿|系统分类:科研笔记

In this edition, sponsored by TAL Technologies and Boker's:

* 'Green' Catalysts Promise Cheaper Drug Production
* Wanted: Lower pH and Natural Preservation of Food
* Dark Flow Suggests Existence of Multiverse
* Non-toxic, Injectable Local Anesthetic
* Volcano Monitor: Autonomous Triggering of In-Situ Sensors
* Interference-Detection Module in a Digital Radar Receiver

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A University of Toronto Department of Chemistry research team has
discovered useful "green" catalysts made from iron that might replace
the much more expensive and toxic platinum metals typically used in
industrial chemical processes to produce drugs, fragrances, and
flavors. The catalyst is used in small amounts to convert a large
amount of inexpensive ketone to a large amount of the valuable alcohol

The synthesis of drugs usually relies on the use of catalysts and the
expense of the catalysts influences the ultimate cost of the drug. If
the catalyst is toxic - as it usually is when platinum-metals such as
ruthenium, rhodium, and palladium are used - then it must be removed
completely from the synthesized product using costly purification

Iron has been considered to be a base metal of low catalytic activity,
but the researchers' successful trick was to prepare a complex of iron
with a structure similar to the most active ruthenium catalyst. An
organic molecule containing carbon, hydrogen, phosphorus, and nitrogen
was attached to iron in its ferrous state to create the catalyst.

Read more here:

A global company is seeking to lower the pH of their food products
without affecting the taste. pH can be lowered in food by adding food
acids which act as natural preservatives, enhance thermal treatments
(pasteurization and sterilization), and control spore germination.
The solution must assure shelf stability of the food at ambient
temperatures. The solution could be new food acids, combinations of
food acids, taste maskers, or natural preservatives.

A company is seeking innovative technology that will provide a method
for extending shelf life, and preventing food deterioration and the
growth of pathogenic micro-organisms. The solution could be a new
natural preservative such as plant extract or food grade cultures, a
natural process/additive for enhancing the activity of known natural
preservatives, or antimicrobial films and coatings. Additionally, new
production processes or application techniques would be of interest.

The Technology Needs of the Week are anonymous requests for technology,
distributed through the marketplace, that you and your
organization may be able to fulfill. Responding to a Tech Need is the
first step to gaining an introduction with a prospective "buyer" for
your technology solution.

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At the Goddard Space Flight Center, Dr. Alexander Kashlinsky is a
principal investigator on several NASA and NSF grants studying topics
related to cosmological bulk flows, cosmic microwave and infrared
background radiation, and early stellar populations. Using the
Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe, Kashlinsky recently discovered a
phenomenon called "dark flow," which are clusters of galaxies moving at
a constant velocity toward a 20-degree patch of sky between the
constellations of Centaurus and Vella.

Kashlinksy says these dark flow measurements may imply that our
universe is just one of many, that other universes may be very
different from ours, and that there is an underlying multiverse in
which these universes exist. Kashlinksy is currently working on a
project at NASA called "Studying Fluctuations in the Far IR Cosmic
Infrared Background with COBE FIRAS Maps," which is designed to measure
the structure of the cosmic infrared background radiation at far
infrared bands. Read the "Who's Who at NASA" interview with Dr.
Alexander Kashlinsky on page 10 of the April issue, or visit .

Researchers at Children's Hospital Boston have developed a slow-release
anesthetic drug-delivery system that could potentially revolutionize
treatment of pain during and after surgery, and may also have a large
impact on chronic pain management. In NIH-funded work, they used
specially designed fat-based particles called liposomes to package
saxitoxin, a potent anesthetic, and produced long-lasting local
anesthesia in rats without apparent toxicity to nerve or muscle cells.

In lab experiments, the researchers evaluated various formulations -
various types of liposomes containing saxitoxin with or without
dexamethasone, a potent steroid known to augment the action of
encapsulated anesthetics. The best liposomes produced nerve blocks
lasting two days if they contained saxitoxin alone, and seven days if
combined with dexamethasone.

Previous attempts to develop slow-release anesthetics have not been
successful due to the tendency for conventional anesthetics to cause
toxicity to surrounding tissue. Even drug packaging materials have been
shown to cause tissue damage. The hospital's slow-release technology
may also have broader applications in drug delivery for the treatment
of a variety of diseases.

Read the full story here:

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory is developing a sulfur-dioxide-sensing
volcano monitor that will be able to transmit its readings through an
Iridium modem. A potential scenario might involve an Earth-based sensor
near the volcano, such as a tilt meter or a seismometer, encountering a
critical reading. This sensor could alert the Earth Observing-1 (EO-1)
craft, which could then look for other sensors in the area. An alert
message sent down to the Volcano Monitoring Box would increase the
frequency of its readings from once an hour to once a minute. By using
the speed and ease with which EO-1 transmits data, information about
volcanic activity can be collected quickly and autonomously.

View more Physical Sciences tech briefs at

John H. Glenn Research Center's Hybrid Diesel Vehicle Project focused
on a parallel hybrid configuration suitable for diesel-powered, medium-
sized, commercial vehicles commonly used for parcel delivery and
shuttle buses, as the missions of these types of vehicles require
frequent stops. During these stops, electric hybridization can
effectively recover the vehicle's kinetic energy during the
deceleration, store it onboard, and then use that energy to assist in
the subsequent acceleration. Test data are available that show the
implementation of the invention during operation of two prototype
hybrid electric vehicles.

View more Mechanics/Machinery tech briefs at

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- Kendra Smith, Assistant Editor

Send your comments to me at:

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