Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Space Station crew, scientists fine-tune zeolite experiment

20.12.2002


The Zeolite Crystal Growth (ZCG) experiment got off to a successful start this week aboard the International Space Station.


Expedition Six Commander Ken Bowersox uses a portable plastic enclosure called the Maintenance Work Area on Dec. 16, 2002, to prepare Zeolite Crystal Growth sample tubes for processing. Hard as a rock, yet able to absorb liquids and gases like a sponge, zeolites form the backbone of the chemical processes industry on Earth. By using the International Space Station’s microgravity environment to grow larger, better quality crystals, NASA and its commercial partners hope to improve petroleum manufacturing and other processes. (Credit: NASA/JSC)



Hard as a rock, yet able to absorb liquids and gases like a sponge, zeolites form the backbone of the chemical processes industry. Virtually all the world’s gasoline is produced or upgraded using zeolites. Improving zeolites could make gasoline production more efficient or lead to ways of storing clean-burning hydrogen for fuel. Zeolites can also be applied to detergents, optical cables, gas and vapor detectors for environmental monitoring.

The microgravity environment of the Space Station allows scientists to grow higher-quality crystals that are 100 to 500 times larger than normal for analysis and test the crystallization process in “slow motion” without being rushed by the effects of gravity.


On Monday, Expedition Six Commander Ken Bowersox used a Space Station drill to mix 12 zeolite samples in clear tubes to evaluate how much to mix the actual test samples the next day. Scientists on the ground watching on TV noticed bubbles in the samples, which could cause smaller crystals and worked together with Bowersox to develop some changes in the mixing process.

On Tuesday, Bowersox used the modified mixing procedure to process 15 of the 19 autoclaves to isolate the bubbles believed to be in the samples. He then re-inserted the samples in the ZCG furnace in EXPRESS Rack 2 in the Station’s Destiny Laboratory. The experiment then began a heat-up and cool-down cycle that will last just over 15 days.

“The exciting thing is we are using the crew to make intelligent decisions,” said Dr. Al Sacco, Jr., principal investigator for the experiment. “It has already helped in the sense we’ve seen more bubbles in these solutions than we anticipated. These bubbles could cause larger numbers of smaller, deformed crystals to grow.”

“In real time, we changed some of our procedures, said Sacco, director of the Center for Advanced Microgravity Materials Processing (CAMMP) at Northeastern University, Boston, Mass. “Ken tried a couple of things. We gave him some additional ideas. As a result, he rotated the samples in such a way that it should throw the heavier fluid to the outside and the lighter bubbles to the inside. It’s going to make a huge difference in the results. We expect to get larger crystals and fewer malformed crystals. It was great interchange between scientists on the ground and the crew in space.”

The ZCG experiment was aided by the new Active Rack Isolation System (ARIS) that damps out vibrations created by crew movement, operating equipment and other activities on the Station. The Station science team reported that ARIS is successfully lowering the vibration levels in EXPRESS Rack 2.

Also Monday, Expedition Six Science Officer Don Pettit removed a rear panel on the ARCTIC 1 freezer, which malfunctioned during Expedition Five. ARCTIC is designed to store biological samples after processing. Pettit did a series of electrical tests, which were unable to restore the freezer to full operations. The operations team is now evaluating plans to return the freezer to Earth for repairs. The problem does not affect science operations, and no samples were stored in the freezer.

On Tuesday, the crew installed pivot pin fittings and a heater jumper cable in the Destiny lab rack location where the Window Observational Research Facility (WORF) will be installed on the ULF-1 mission. ULF-1, which is the start of Expedition Seven, will mark the beginning of WORF’s planned Earth observations research.

On Wednesday, Bowersox performed some calibration tests on the new Foot/Ground Reaction Forces During Space Flight (FOOT) experiment prior to the start of science operations. FOOT is designed to characterize the stress on the lower extremity bones and muscles in microgravity.

Among the Crew Earth Observation (CEO) photography subjects for this week were Lake Victoria in East Africa, which supplies fish for the surrounding population, the beginning of fire season in West Africa, coral formations around Tuamotu-Austral Islands, Baker Island and Howland Island in the Central Pacific, and the urban area of Chicago, Ill.

The crew during the week also continued to perform daily status and maintenance checks on Station science payloads and equipment.

The Payload Operations Center at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages all science research experiment operations aboard the International

Space Station. The center is also home for coordination of the mission-planning work of a variety of international sources, all science payload deliveries and retrieval, and payload training and payload safety programs for the Station crew and all ground personnel.

Steve Roy | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www1.msfc.nasa.gov/NEWSROOM/news/photos/2002/photos02-320.html

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Harvesting the Sun for Power and Produce
24.11.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Solare Energiesysteme ISE

nachricht Batteries with better performance and improved safety
23.11.2017 | Empa - Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New proton record: Researchers measure magnetic moment with greatest possible precision

High-precision measurement of the g-factor eleven times more precise than before / Results indicate a strong similarity between protons and antiprotons

The magnetic moment of an individual proton is inconceivably small, but can still be quantified. The basis for undertaking this measurement was laid over ten...

Im Focus: Frictional Heat Powers Hydrothermal Activity on Enceladus

Computer simulation shows how the icy moon heats water in a porous rock core

Heat from the friction of rocks caused by tidal forces could be the “engine” for the hydrothermal activity on Saturn's moon Enceladus. This presupposes that...

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

IceCube experiment finds Earth can block high-energy particles from nuclear reactions

24.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 'half-hearted' solution to one-sided heart failure

24.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

Heidelberg Researchers Study Unique Underwater Stalactites

24.11.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>