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ICB Announces Winners of 2016 Invention of the Year Competition

The Office of the General Counsel is pleased to announce the winners of the Invention of the Year (IOY) Awards for 2016. Two distinct awards are presented: the NASA Government Invention of the Year, and the NASA Commercial Invention of the Year.

The NASA Government Invention of the Year Award is awarded to the invention Boron Nitride Nanotubes, from the Langley Research Center. The invention introduced a novel approach to synthesize high quality BNNTs without any metal catalyst using a high pressure, temperature (HTP) method, which produces highly crystalline, very long, thin BNNTs. A series of BNNT science and technology projects related to this invention have been funded for fundamental studies of BNNT synthesis and applications within NASA and from other government agencies. This is the first breakthrough discovery to produce high quality BNNTs without any catalyst at a scalable amount since the first BNNT synthesis was reported back in 1994 and has stimulated worldwide reinvestment in BNNT research, development and production from academia, government labs and private sectors.

The NASA Commercial Invention of the Year Award is awarded to the invention Hydrogen Sensing Pigments in Manufactured Polymer Composites (a.k.a. Hydrogen Leak Detection Tape), from the Kennedy Space Center. The invention is a chemochromic sensor for detecting a combustible gas, such as hydrogen. This technology is licensed to HySense Technology LLC, which sells a product, Intellipigment™ tape, for detecting hydrogen gas leaks. This tape is a low cost detection means that has broad commercial application for use in the aerospace industry plus oil and gas production, chemical production and power generation industries which together produce and consume a reported 57 million tons of hydrogen gas annually.

A runner-up award was given to:

  • Solid Freeform Fabrication Apparatus and Methods; Closed Loop Process Control for Electron Beam Freeform Fabrication and Deposition Process; Use of Beam Deflection to Control Electron Beam Wire Deposition Process, from Langley Research Center.

Honorable Mentions were given to the following inventions:

  • ADR Salt Pill Design and Crystal Growth Process for Hydrated Magnetic Salts, from Goddard Space Flight Center
  • Prognostics - Remaining Useful Life Estimation and Its Applications to Electrochemical Storage, from Ames Research Center
  • Photogrammetric Recession Measurements of an Ablating Surface, from Ames Research Center

Boron Nitride Nanotubes -- Invention of the Year Recipients Langley BNNTs synthesis inventors Michael Smith, Kevin Jordan and Cheol Park

Hydrogen Leak Detection Tape -- Invention of the Year Recipients Hydrogen present on leak detection tape developed by the KSC team