NASA Offers Grants to Cal State LA to Study Solidification of Materials in Space

Copper distribution around dendritic microstructures during solidification of an aluminum-copper alloy. (Note: Dendrites are the tree-like microstructures that form during solidification of alloys. Their shape, size, and orientation have a great impact on the properties of the solidified products). (Credit: Mohsen Eshraghi, Cal State LA)

Cal State LA has received two grants from NASA to conduct materials science experiments with the International Space Station. These grants, worth a total of $840,000, were possible through the Physical Sciences Research program at NASA.

The research will be using simulation to analyze the way materials solidify under various circumstances—in space, on earth where gravity is present, or in the absence of gravity.

This will provide valuable contributions to the understanding of microstructural evolution and solidification mechanisms in the absence and presence of gravity.

Mohsen Eshraghi, mechanical engineering professor at Cal State LA, involved with both grants

One research explores pore formation in alloys during solidification. The other study will be looking into the formation of microstructures during alloy solidification. Microstructure is the small scale structure of the materials; the miniature attributes that can be studied using a microscope.

The studies will be making use of flight experimental data from the International Space Station, which is presently stored in the NASA Physical Sciences Informatics (PSI). PSI is an online database of former and current physical science space station flight experiments.
Eshraghi is the chief investigator on one grant and a co-principal investigator on the other. Both the projects consist of researchers from the Cleveland State University and University of Akron.

The research has the potential to be useful for future in-space fabrication processes that involve solidification.

“The results will also be very useful for a variety of manufacturing industries including automotive and aerospace.

Mohsen Eshraghi, mechanical engineering professor at Cal State LA, involved with both grants

The Physical Sciences Research Program is handled by the Space Life and Physical Sciences Division in NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate. The program helps to promote the existing fundamental research, which investigates physical phenomena in the fundamental laws of the universe and the absence of gravity, and applied research, which contributes to the fundamental understanding behind space exploration technologies that will accelerate the journey to Mars. Both have helped to enhance space systems or new products on Earth.

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