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 New test procedure for developing quick-charging lithium-ion batteries
07.12.2017 | Forschungszentrum Jülich

nachricht Plug & Play Light Solution for NOx measurement
01.12.2017 | Heraeus Noblelight GmbH

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: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

Im Focus: Virtual Reality for Bacteria

An interdisciplinary group of researchers interfaced individual bacteria with a computer to build a hybrid bio-digital circuit - Study published in Nature Communications

Scientists at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria) have managed to control the behavior of individual bacteria by connecting them to a...

Im Focus: A space-time sensor for light-matter interactions

Physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (run jointly by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics) have developed an attosecond electron microscope that allows them to visualize the dispersion of light in time and space, and observe the motions of electrons in atoms.

The most basic of all physical interactions in nature is that between light and matter. This interaction takes place in attosecond times (i.e. billionths of a...

Im Focus: A transistor of graphene nanoribbons

Transistors based on carbon nanostructures: what sounds like a futuristic dream could be reality in just a few years' time. An international research team working with Empa has now succeeded in producing nanotransistors from graphene ribbons that are only a few atoms wide, as reported in the current issue of the trade journal "Nature Communications."

Graphene ribbons that are only a few atoms wide, so-called graphene nanoribbons, have special electrical properties that make them promising candidates for the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

Blockchain is becoming more important in the energy market

05.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Making fuel out of thick air

08.12.2017 | Life Sciences

Rules for superconductivity mirrored in 'excitonic insulator'

08.12.2017 | Information Technology

Smartphone case offers blood glucose monitoring on the go

08.12.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>