Constrained Vaper Bubble-2 (CVB-2) - 01.09.14
Science Objectives for Everyone
The CVB experiment has multi-faceted objectives: 1) it is a basic scientific study in interfacial phenomena, microgravity fluid physics and thermodynamics; 2) it is a basic study in thermal transport; and 3) it is a study of passive heat exchanger. The immediate macroscopic objectives are to determine the stability, the fluid flow characteristics, the average heat transfer coefficient in the evaporator, and the heat conductance, under microgravity conditions, of the CVB as a function of the heat flow rate and vapor volume.
Science Results for Everyone Information Pending
ZIN Technologies Incorporated, Cleveland, OH, United States
Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD)
ISS Expedition Duration
September 2013 - March 2014
Previous ISS Missions
CVB-2 is a continuation of the original CVB investigation, where the goal is the study of thermophysical principles underlying change-of-phase heat transfer systems. In CVB-2 the effect of replacing a pure fluid (100% Pentane used in CVB) with a mixture (94% Pentane and 6% Isohexane in CVB-2) is observed. The study of the mixture will evaluate the effect of a modified liquid/vapor interfacial shear stress on fluid flow towards the zone of evaporation. Most liquids have a surface tension that decreases with increasing temperature. This phenomenon creates a flow in the direction of increasing surface tension, called "Marangoni Flow". The temperature driven Marangoni Flow reduces the effectiveness of a heat pipe like the CVB because it keeps liquid from returning to the hot end. The use of a liquid mixture can mitigate this effect because the change in mixture composition with temperature opposes the change in surface tension with temperature allowing for liquid to keep flowing toward the hot end of the device. This should change the details of the basic evaporation and condensation processes operating in the cell.
The crewmember determines the pressure gradient driving liquid flow through the heat-exchanger optically by measuring the shape of the vapor-liquid interface. Temperature gradients driving the heat flow are measured using a series of thermocouples drilled into the side of the CVB cell. Due to their sensitivity to gravity and to small temperature and pressure gradients, heat pipe transport systems like the CVB need to be studied under microgravity conditions to obtain some essential, fundamental information about their internal fluid recirculation systems operate.
Part of the rationale for the experiment is to understand how mixtures of fluids behave during evaporation/condensation cycles. This has applications in chemical processes like boiling, evaporation, condensation, refrigeration, distillation, and in stripping processes where a volatile toxic compound would need to be removed from say, groundwater. The operation of the CVB-2 device also provides fundamental reference data that people who work on advanced micro- and nano- structured heat exchange surfaces need to benchmark their inventions. There are also applications to space-based and terrestrial heat pipes. All high performance laptop computers now incorporate heat pipes to keep their processors cool. Most satellite systems also use heat pipes to keep critical components cool. Fluid mixtures have been reported to perform better, allowing heat pipes incorporating them to be smaller and lighter.
In general, there are many devices where overheating (e.g. computers or LED light bulbs) can seriously degrade performance and lifetime and so need perpetual cooling. Since heat pipes use capillary action instead of a mechanical pump to supply the cooling fluid (which evaporates) to the hot region, they are a sophisticated, quiet, light, reliable, and efficient method to transfer the heat from the hot region. The objective of CVB and CVB-2 is to understand the details of the evaporation/condensation/fluid-flow operation of these devices and thereby lead to better designs. Heat pipes are particularly useful in microgravity because they eliminate the need for a mechanical pump, a primary source of failure in most systems. Since the effect of gravity is absent in microgravity, the process by which a heat pipe operates is also simpler on the ISS and easier to study. However, the results of the study would also be applicable on earth. In our studies, we compare the operation of the same device in 1g and microgravity. Thereby, adding to the general usefulness of the results of the study
NASA and ZIN Technologies developed the experimental setup for flight aboard the International Space Station as a part of the Fluids Integrated Rack (FIR). The Light Microscopy Module (LMM) developed as a part of the FIR consists of a completely automated optical microscope performs a variety of experiments.