Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Astronauts to get Norwegian indoor climate check

22.11.2006
Under the terms of a contract with ESA, the European Space Agency, SINTEF and the German company Kayser-Threde GmbH have joined forces to develop an advanced system for identifying and measuring gases in indoor environments.

The new measurement technique is also suitable for a wide range of applications on Earth.

The system is currently in the process of being handed over to NASA. Plans are for the US space organisation to take the unit up to the ISS next summer, using an unmanned cargo spaceship.

After a ten-day test phase, the Norwegian-German system will be trialled in the ISS, at first for six months, in order to provide useful data on gas emissions. If the system passes its tests, the next version will become a regular part of the space station’s monitoring equipment.

Protecting astronauts

The owners of the ISS wish to prevent its inhabitants from breathing in gases that are either unpleasant, toxic or carcinogenic. Just as on Earth, gases will evaporate out of walls, interiors and equipment. Other gases may come from leaks or overheating, while the human body also produces gases.

And out in space, we cannot simply open a window! In the space station, the astronauts are completely dependent on the air purification system.

Through the needle’s eye

Equipment for measuring gases is installed on board the ISS as a matter of safety, so that the astronauts can quickly see whether the air purification system has failed or a leak has occurred, and put countermeasures into effect. But at present, only a few gases can be measured rapidly and frequently. The time taken to identify other gases is measured in hours, while some can only be measured after samples of the air have been returned to earth.

Experts from industry and scientists have been competing to develop the next generation of measuring equipment. Today, the leading candidate for use on board the ISS is the new system from SINTEF and the German company Kayser-Threde GmbH.

“World championship” in gas measurement

A few years ago, in order to provide a foundation for the choice of new measurement technology, NASA organised an unofficial “World Championship” in gas measurement, in which the Norwegian-German solution went right to the top.

The system gained maximum score for its ability to recognise gases in NASA’s text mixtures and to indicate their concentrations. Since then, the Norwegian and German partners have improved the sensitivity of the system even more, and they have produced a more compact, lighter version which is more suitable for the weight and space limitations inherent in space-station deployment.

Works by “seeing” gases

The system, which goes under the name of ANITA, works rapidly and completely automatically and presents its results in real time. During the upcoming trials, however, the astronauts will not have direct access to the results, as all the data will be transmitted via NASA and further processed by SINTEF.

The solution is based on optical technology. The system “sees” gases with the aid of a beam of infrared radiation. SINTEF’s primary contribution has been in the methods used by the system to interpret its own optical measurements.

According to SINTEF’s project manager Atle Honne, this is a field that has demanded a great deal of new development efforts. Honne is proud of the results. Ground-based tests have shown that the system is capable of discriminating between at least 32 different gases in all sorts of mixtures.

The main point of the space station trials is to demonstrate that the system is also capable of functioning under “space-ship” conditions. That NASA wants such a long period of testing is due to the fact that the organisation want to acquire better air-quality data for its space station.

Earth-bound benefits too

SINTEF scientist Atle Honne explains that the new measurement technique is also suitable for a wide range of applications on Earth, which is the main reason for SINTEF’s decision to go in for this project. “We can envisage a whole series of applications, from monitoring industrial processes to use on board submarines and other sites where it is vital to control indoor climate”, he says.

By Svein Tønseth

Aase Dragland | alfa
Further information:
http://www.sintef.no

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Significantly more productivity in USP lasers
06.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Lasertechnik ILT

nachricht Shape matters when light meets atom
05.12.2016 | Centre for Quantum Technologies at the National University of Singapore

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: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

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

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

NTU scientists build new ultrasound device using 3-D printing technology

07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

The balancing act: An enzyme that links endocytosis to membrane recycling

07.12.2016 | Life Sciences

How to turn white fat brown

07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>