Reducing Skyscraper Sway With NASA Technology | RTI Innovation Advisors

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For over 50 years, we’ve helped commercialize NASA technology, by bringing the technologies to U.S. industry to create revenue, jobs, and economic growth.

As strategic advisors we

  • assess technology for commercial potential
  • prioritize which technologies to promote to industry
  • define the technologies’ value proposition
  • identify & engage commercialization partners and
  • bringing licensing deals to NASA.

NASA wanted to understand the commercial application for its fluid-structure coupling, a technology that prevents dangerous and potentially deadly vibrations during rocket launches. The technology had many potential benefits applications; it was a question of selecting the ideal licensor. In collaboration with NASA, we defined and implemented a technology transfer strategy. Our work included characterizing the marketing opportunity, building a pipeline of potential licensors, making connections, and structuring a licensing agreement.

We identified a perfect match for the NASA-developed technology: Thornton Tomasetti. As a global leader in the engineering design of skyscrapers, Thornton Tomasetti also had extensive experience designing dampers. We reached out to appropriate contacts at Thornton Tomasetti and collaborated with NASA to negotiate a licensing agreement with them. Thornton Tomasetti refined NASA’s technology for building applications. Today they use the damping method — which they call the fluid harmonic damper — to control sway in bridges and buildings.

Thornton Tomasetti has the exclusive right to apply the fluid harmonic disruptor to tall buildings in the U.S. A lighter, lower-cost alternative to tuned-mass dampers, Thornton Tomasetti used the fluid harmonic disruptor in Brooklyn’s B2. The architects describe the B2 as the tallest modular residential building in the world when it was completed in 2016.

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