A paper-thin coating of an innovative NASA material used to prevent space
vehicles from burning up during planetary reentry may soon be available to
protect your house, car and boat from fire.

Protective Ceramic Coating (PCC), invented at NASA’s Ames Research Center,
Moffett Field, CA, in the heart of Silicon Valley, repels heat from
virtually any surface it covers. This allows it to shield ceramics, wood,
steel, plastics and fiberglass from high temperatures. Wessex, Inc., based
in Blacksburg, VA, has licensed the coating from Ames and will continue to
develop and market the material.

“PCC has a unique property that enables it to radiate thermal energy during
exposure to elevated temperatures,” said Ames scientist Rex Churchward, the
inventor of PCC. “The coating helps the material reject heat from its
surface and thus decreases the amount of heat that can be transferred to
the underlying insulation.”

NASA originally invented PCC as a protective coating for spacecraft heat
shields to allow them to withstand the extreme fiery conditions experienced
during Earth reentry. The material’s ceramic components exhibit the
property of high emissivity, which means the material tends to radiate
heat. This allows the protective coating to reflect heat away from the
surface it covers, thereby increasing the capability of materials to
withstand temperature levels far beyond their normal range.

“Wessex has performed extensive research to maximize the product’s fitness
for use in various applications,” said company president John Olver. “We
have discovered that 99 percent of the materials in PCC will not burn;
therefore, the coating inhibits the spread of flame. It also reduces heat
transfer to the underlying material, which prevents combustion.”

“PCC can withstand temperatures from minus 250 degrees Fahrenheit up to
3,000 degrees Fahrenheit without damage,” added Olver. “It is a great
material with unlimited potential.”

In the future, PCC may serve as heat protection for car and boat engines,
as well as various building materials, making these modes of transportation
and environments more fire-resistant and safer for the consumer. The PCC
product is readily manufactured and easily applied to a variety of

“The advantage of the coating is that it can be applied by brush or by
spray gun and then air dried,” added Churchward. “It is fairly easy to
prepare and can be applied to large or small sections of insulation.”

This successful transfer of PCC demonstrates how NASA’s Commercial
Technology Offices perform their mission of maximizing NASA’s research
efforts. NASA reaches out to the business community in a way that leverages
the agency’s resources with those of the private sector. The objective is
to stimulate job growth and increase the competitiveness of American
products in the global marketplace.

“The American taxpayer’s investment is paying off when products like PCC
are spun out and become commercially viable, meeting a real need in the US
marketplace,” said Phil Herlth of the Ames Commercial Technology Office.

To read about NASA Commercial Technology Opportunities on the Internet, visit:


Note to Broadcasters: A video file to support this release is being
distributed today, April 24, via NASA Television. The video file will air
at 3 p.m. (EST) with replay on April 25 at 12 p.m. NASA Television is
broadcast on GE-2, transponder 9C, C-Band, located at 85 degrees West
longitude. The frequency is 3880.0 MHz. Polarization is vertical and
audio is monaural at 6.8 MHz. Updates to the video file schedule are on
the Internet at http://www.nasa.gov/ntv/