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Natural Awakenings Bucks and Montgomery Counties PA

Spinning Into the Future

It’s inspiring to see how NASA technology is helping to fight climate change. Many innovations were pioneered for space travel while others originated from studying life and flight on Earth. Some have come from the agency’s efforts to reduce its own environmental impacts. Here are more of the growing collection of NASA spinoffs.

Food from Thin Air 

NASA has long studied hydrogen-fixing bacteria for life-support systems that could capture carbon dioxide and turn it into other things. One company built on years of NASA research to convert captured CO2 and other ingredients into foods, materials, and fuels.

High-Wattage Sun Power 

In the early 2000s, a company developed advanced silicon solar cells to power lightweight, high-altitude NASA aircraft. They generated 50 percent more power than conventional cells. The company made them more affordable and now makes some of the highest-wattage home panels available.

Solar Cell Absorption 

An engineer who worked on solar cells under a NASA research associateship founded a company and partnered with NASA to perfect an affordable antireflective coating process to increase solar cell efficiency. The company licenses the process to solar cell manufacturers.

Growing Wind Turbine Blades 

Software that started at NASA in the 1980s to help design a proposed hypersonic spaceplane is now enabling wind turbine manufacturers to design larger blades to increase turbine efficiency. The program keeps the blades as lightweight and easy to manufacture as possible.

Martian Turbines on Earth 

With an eye toward generating power on Mars, NASA helped a wind turbine company simplify and ruggedize its turbines for use in polar conditions on Earth. More than 800 of the resulting turbines have been deployed around the world.

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