Electrowetting Enhanced Dropwise Condensation in the Zero-g Environment

PI: Chung-Lung Chen, Mahmoud Almasri (Co-I), University of Missouri - Columbia

Water vapor condensation has many applications in low Earth orbit or deep space NASA missions, but traditional water condensers designed for ground applications mainly rely on gravitational forces to remove condensed liquid from cooling surfaces. In the absence of gravity, condensed liquid collects on solid surfaces, which increases thermal resistance and hinders further condensation. In this flight demonstration, the electrowetting-on-dielectric (EWOD) effect will be utilized to promote droplet nucleation and automate the removal of condensed dropwise water droplets from the condensing surface as they form, thereby freeing surface area for continued condensation and significantly increasing condensation efficiency.

Technology Areas (?)
  • TA14 Thermal Management Systems
Technology Maturation

The current Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of this concept is Level 4. Further enhancement of condensation with EWOD is expected to take place in a zero-G environment because it can induce droplet jumping more easily without gravity induced droplet flow. To prove this claim and certify EWOD condensation as useful for space missions, it is necessary to test in a zero-G environment.

Future Customers

EWOD enhanced condensers can find application in any future project involving human habitation. Temperature and humidity control are vitally important for life support systems, and efficient water condensation has applications in cabin air conditioning and dehumidification. Phase-change heat transfer technology utilizing EWOD enhanced condensers can also have an impact on future deep space NASA missions such as Psyche and Europa Clipper.

Technology Details

  • Selection Date
    REDDI-F1-18 (Aug 2018)
  • Program Status
  • Current TRL (?)
    Successful FOP Flights
  • 3 Parabolic

Development Team

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