Heat transfer experiment arrives at International Space Station

Issam Mudawar (far left) inspects one of the modules for fluid boiling and condensation experiments recently launched on the International Space Station. Joining him at NASA’s Glenn Research Center (from left to right) are Purdue Ph.D. candidates Stephen Darges and NASA’s Mojib Hasan and Henry Nara.Credit: Purdue University

Spacecraft designers need to prioritize two factors: weight reduction and extreme temperature control.

A new experiment designed by Purdue University engineers addresses both issues. The Flow Boiling Condensation Experiment (FBCE), which arrived at the International Space Station on Thursday (August 12), will soon advance the science of heat transfer in microgravity.

“Vehicles like” space shuttle Issam Mudawar, a professor of mechanical engineering at Betty Ruth and Milton B. Hollander and a principal investigator at FBCE, said: It is complex and adds a great deal of weight to the spacecraft. What we have been investigating is the use of two-phase flow, which is more efficient and reduces the size of cooling hardware. “

Two-phase flow refers to the two phases of matter (liquid and vapor) that occur between boiling and condensation. In a process called “flow boiling,” a special liquid flows through a heat source that boils and creates bubbles. Those steam bubbles Heat source, Eliminates heat and then condenses back into a liquid. The liquid is a closed system and constantly recirculates.

This is a very efficient and well-studied process, but one aspect remains unclear. space Is it as efficient as a boiling stream on Earth?

To find the answer, Mudawar has entered into a research partnership with NASA’s Glenn Research Center. His team designed and built an experiment to test boiling and condensation of flow in microgravity, and in 2012 the team sent it to “Reduced Gravity”. This is an airplane that flies up and down and simulates a period of microgravity of 15 to 17 seconds. parabola.

“We have found that at certain flow rates, microgravity actually reduces the amount of heat flux by up to 50%,” says Mudawar.

Working with colleagues at Glenn Research Center, Mudawer’s team continued to tweak multiple factors in the process, sending several experiments in a parabolic flight with Zero Gravity Corporation (ZERO-G) over the next few years. rice field. A student at Purdue University was on board to operate the equipment.

“Our goal has always been to achieve the design specifications of experiments that actually take place in space,” says Mudawer.

Researchers heard their wishes earlier this year. Mudawar and his colleagues at Glenn Research Center were working on a smaller version of the experiment to fit in a particular rack on the International Space Station. In March, they confirmed that this new experimental module, FBCE, has passed all NASA safety and readiness reviews and is ready for launch.

“This is not an easy task,” said Mudawar. “All structural members need to be optimized for weight and size. All screws need to be evaluated and certified. This is a good preparation for future spacecraft weight reduction. This is me. That’s what we’re trying to achieve. “

On Tuesday, an Antares rocket was launched from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island, Virginia. At the top of the rocket was the Northrop Grumman Cygnus spacecraft carrying 3,000 pounds of supplies for astronauts aboard the ISS, as well as FBCE and three other scientific experiments. Cygnus docked with the ISS on Thursday. Astronauts will soon implement scientific instruments through operational readiness reviews and will begin conducting experiments later this year.

“This is a truly groundbreaking event for Purdue University’s space research,” said Mr. Mudawa. “In the last decade, 14 PhD and 1 Master’s students have been involved in this project, and the partnership with Glenn Research Center has been a perfect partnership so far. It will be the largest phase change experiment conducted in Japan. Space. We will be able to use what we have learned from this experiment to make future spacecraft more efficient and to go to the moon, Mars, etc. I hope that. ”

The heat goes down in the experiment to the space station

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Heat transfer experiment arrives at International Space Station

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