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 Organic light-emitting diodes become brighter and more durable
28.05.2018 | Technische Universität Dresden

nachricht APEX takes a glimpse into the heart of darkness
25.05.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie

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: Powerful IT security for the car of the future – research alliance develops new approaches

The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.

Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...

Im Focus: Molecular switch will facilitate the development of pioneering electro-optical devices

A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.

The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

12th COMPAMED Spring Convention: Innovative manufacturing processes of modern implants

28.05.2018 | Event News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Cognitive Power Electronics 4.0 is gaining momentum

28.05.2018 | Trade Fair News

Organic light-emitting diodes become brighter and more durable

28.05.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

12th COMPAMED Spring Convention: Innovative manufacturing processes of modern implants

28.05.2018 | Event News

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>