Early in march, the US Patent Office assigned patent number US10228197 for a patent entitled “Variable Heat Rejection Device” that protects intellectual property associated with the SMA-based morphing radiator project. Inventors included Dr. Darren Hartl and his collaborators at NASA and Paragon Space Development Corporation.
Work on the patent technology began in 2012 as Cognata first contacted Hartl to assess the potential of developing morphing radiators incorporating SMAs for passive control of radiator fin geometry. Over time, multiple demonstrators have been developed, pushing the technology to TRL 4.
The abstract of the full patent reads: “A heat rejection system that employs temperature sensitive shape memory materials to control the heat rejection capacity of a vehicle to maintain a safe vehicle temperature. The technology provides for a wide range of heat rejection rates by varying the shape and thus effective properties of the heat rejection system in response to temperature. When employed as a radiator for crewed spacecraft thermal control this permits the use of higher freezing point, non-toxic thermal working fluids in single-loop thermal control systems for crewed vehicles in space and other extraterrestrial environments.”