Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Purdue method to help engineers design systems for Mars, moon missions


Purdue University researchers, in the culmination of a four-year NASA-funded project, have created a method that will enable engineers to design more efficient systems for heating, cooling and other applications in spacecraft for missions to Mars and the moon.

The new method uses a model that was recently shown to be highly accurate in experiments onboard a NASA KC-135 aircraft that creates reduced gravity conditions such as those in earth orbit, on the moon and Mars. The aircraft flies in steep maneuvers, causing brief periods of microgravity in which to test theories for the design of space hardware, said Issam Mudawar, a Purdue professor of mechanical engineering, director of Purdue’s Boiling and Two-Phase Flow Laboratory and the university’s International Electronic Cooling Alliance.

"Our model can predict how these systems behave in reduced gravity based on operating conditions, how much fluid is flowing in a tube, how fast it is flowing, what the tube diameter and tube length are, and so on," Mudawar said. "What’s neat about the flight experiments is that not only did we get data about the microgravity of space travel, but we also simulated the reduced gravity of the moon and Mars."

Lunar gravity is one-sixth that of Earth’s, and Martian gravity is three-eighths as strong.

Using the same principle behind ordinary air conditioners and refrigerators, scientists want to use so-called "two-phase systems" for future spacecraft and space stations on the moon and Mars. The systems will work by using a closed loop in which liquid comes to a boil as it absorbs heat, turns into a vapor and is then returned by pumps so that it condenses back into a liquid and, in the process, cools down to begin the cycle over again.

"Boiling the liquid makes these systems at least 10 times more effective at transferring heat than systems that merely heat liquid, like the cooling system in your car, in which water absorbs heat from the engine and then circulates through a radiator to release the heat," Mudawar said. "The problem is that little has been known about the behavior of boiling and condensing liquids in space. "Our work with NASA has led to a fundamental understanding of this two-phase fluid behavior in the microgravity of space and a method to provide guidelines for the design of space hardware."

Findings were presented in Cleveland in June during the Workshop on Strategic Research to Enable NASA’s Exploration Missions. The study was conducted by Mudawar; Hui Zhang, a Purdue doctoral student in mechanical engineering; and Mohammad M. Hasan, a research engineer at the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland.

The Purdue researchers first created a model in experiments on earth that simulated low gravity. Then, flight experiments on the NASA aircraft proved the model to be highly accurate, Mudawar said.

Engineers designed the flight experiment so that fluid flowed through a transparent plastic window. The researchers then took high-speed photographs and video of the flowing fluid during the flights, enabling the engineers to study its behavior in minute detail.

Zhang operated the experiment on the NASA KC-135 aircraft.

Data recorded during the experiments show how a given system would function in space, on the moon and on Mars.

Because boiling, vaporizing and condensing a fluid is far more effective at dissipating heat than just using liquid, such systems can be significantly more compact and lightweight, which is ideal for space travel. "Weight is at a premium for any space mission, and this model will help engineers create smaller and lighter systems," NASA researcher Hasan said.

The transfer of heat is critical for cooling and heating systems, as well as the operation of power plants that use nuclear fission reactions. NASA researchers are exploring the possible use of nuclear fission reactors – the type of nuclear power used on earth – for future space applications.

President George W. Bush has launched an initiative establishing human missions to the moon and Mars as priorities, which means better life-support and power-generation systems will be needed.

The next step in the Purdue research will be testing the model with various fluids to broaden the tool’s range of applications.

Emil Venere | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Move over, lasers: Scientists can now create holograms from neutrons, too
21.10.2016 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

nachricht Finding the lightest superdeformed triaxial atomic nucleus
20.10.2016 | The Henryk Niewodniczanski Institute of Nuclear Physics Polish Academy of Sciences

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>