NASA’s investment in a groundbreaking superalloy, GRX-810, designed to withstand the extreme temperatures and harsh conditions of air and spaceflight, is poised to yield significant commercial benefits. The agency is licensing this innovative material to four American companies, promising to boost the U.S. economy as a return on taxpayer investment.

GRX-810 is a 3D-printable high-temperature alloy that enhances the strength and durability of airplane and spacecraft components, enabling them to endure greater stress before failure. The co-exclusive licensing agreements will enable these companies to produce and market GRX-810 to manufacturers of aircraft and rocket equipment, as well as throughout the supply chain.

The four companies receiving the licenses are:

  • Carpenter Technology Corporation, Reading, Pennsylvania
  • Elementum 3D, Inc., Erie, Colorado
  • Linde Advanced Material Technologies, Inc., Indianapolis
  • Powder Alloy Corporation, Loveland, Ohio

This initiative is part of NASA’s Technology Transfer Program, which aims to leverage taxpayer-funded research for the direct benefit of the U.S. economy. The program ensures that new technologies are patented and transferred to industry partners for commercialization.

“NASA invests tax dollars into research that demonstrates direct benefit to the U.S. and transfers its technologies to industry by licensing its patents,” said Amy Hiltabidel, licensing manager at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland.

NASA engineers specifically designed GRX-810 for aerospace applications such as liquid rocket engine injectors, combustors, turbines, and other high-temperature components capable of withstanding temperatures over 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

“GRX-810 represents a new alloy design space and manufacturing technique that was impossible a few years ago,” said Dr. Tim Smith, a materials researcher at NASA Glenn. Smith, along with his colleague Christopher Kantzos, developed the superalloy using advanced computer modeling and laser 3D-printing, creating a material with enhanced strength due to tiny particles containing oxygen atoms distributed throughout the alloy.

Compared to other nickel-base alloys, GRX-810 can endure higher temperatures and stress, lasting up to 2,500 times longer. It is nearly four times better at flexing before breaking and twice as resistant to oxidation damage.

“Adoption of this alloy will lead to more sustainable aviation and space exploration,” said Dale Hopkins, deputy project manager of NASA’s Transformational Tools and Technologies project. “Components made from GRX-810 will lower operating costs by lasting longer and improving overall fuel efficiency.”

The research and development efforts for GRX-810 included teams from NASA’s Glenn Research Center, Ames Research Center, The Ohio State University, and Marshall Space Flight Center, where recent testing involved 3D-printed rocket engine parts.

NASA’s innovation extends beyond space exploration, contributing to advancements in air transportation and our understanding of Earth. Through patent licensing and other mechanisms, NASA has facilitated the development of over 2,000 technologies into commercial products and solutions that support the American economy.

By Impact Lab