Shape Memory Alloy Rock Splitters (SMARS)

Available On-Demand until December 15, 2017

NASA’s Glenn Research Center has developed a groundbreaking method for using shape memory alloys (SMAs) to split apart rock formations without explosives or hydraulics. 

Conventional approaches present difficulties in transportation and operation and can badly damage underlying samples during use. Glenn’s innovation exploits cutting-edge SMA compositions to deliver controllable stresses in excess of 1500 megapascals (MPa), which is up to four times greater than the force exerted by commercial equiatomic SMAs. The SMA compositions are also tunable to multiple activation temperatures up to 400°C, depending on the usage environments. Glenn’s Shape Memory Alloy Rock Splitters (SMARS) device generates this power without any demolition damage to the surrounding environment, and in a package that combines reliability, ease of setup and activation, and cost-effectiveness. 

This technology could prove invaluable to enterprises as varied as oil drilling, mining, civil engineering, fossil collection, and search-and-rescue operations any field that requires compact, but large, static forces.

For additional information on this technology, please visit:



Dr. Othmane Benafan, Materials Research Engineer, NASA Glenn Research Center

Othmane Benafan received his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Central Florida in 2012. Currently, he is a materials researcher in the High Temperature and Smart Alloys Branch of the Materials and Structures Division at NASA Glenn. Dr. Benafan is the team lead responsible for developing new classes of shape memory alloys. His research has focused on expanding the alloy temperature capability and improving long-term reliability needed for their use in aerospace systems. His work involves both fundamental research and prototyping of new lightweight actuation concepts and mechanical components.

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