Nucleation of Cryogenic Bubbles in Spacecraft Liquid Acquisition Devices .:. Knowledge Payload

PI: Steven Collicott, Scott Meyer (Co-I), Purdue University

Researchers at Purdue University are exploring Nucleation of Cryogenic Bubbles in Spacecraft Liquid Acquisition Devices in order to address questions raised during a precursor NASA project on the International Space Station. The previous project found the creation of vapor bubbles during a reduction in test tank pressure. Purdue will fly a liquid-vapor nitrogen system on parabolic flights to explore thermodynamic states and changes relevant to resolving questions raised by the station experiment, with the goal of helping to advance long-term cryogenic propellant storage in the weightlessness of space.

Technology Areas (?)
  • NA
Problem Statement

The zero-boil-off tank (ZBOT) experiment on the International Space Station was a remarkable achievement in cryogenic propellant management technology in the weightlessness of spaceflight. However, despite providing many technological answers, ZBOT also produced new questions. Purdue researchers seek to advance the technology for long-term weightless cryogenic propellant storage by exploring one of the questions raised by ZBOT—specifically, the creation of vapor bubbles in or near the flat screen of the ZBOT during a reduction of pressure in the test tank.

Technology Maturation

Researchers will fly a liquid-vapor nitrogen system on a parabolic aircraft with an overboard vent system in operation. The same refrigerant used in ZBOT will be implemented to demonstrate the similarity or difference in behavior of the ZBOT refrigerant and a more representative cryogenic system. Liquid nitrogen is expected to behave much more similarly to liquid oxygen than the much larger molecules in the ZBOT refrigerant did.

Future Customers

•Long-duration lunar and cis-lunar missions utilizing cryogenic propellant
•Space-based cryogenic propellant storage and fuel depots

Technology Details

  • Selection Date
    TechFlights20 (Sep 2020)
  • Program Status
  • Current TRL (?)
    Successful FOP Flights
  • 0 Parabolic

Development Team

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