Spatio-temporal Flow Structure in Marangoni Convection (Marangoni-UVP) - 09.23.15

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ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
Spatio-temporal Flow Structure in Marangoni Convection (Marangoni-UVP) investigates the fundamental physics of surface tension where liquid and gas meet. Specifically, it investigates a phenomenon known as Marangoni convection, a type of flow that is driven by temperature differences at the liquid and gas interface. The Fluid Physics Experiment Facility enables observations of liquid and gas flow in three dimensions, and the microgravity environment on the International Space Station provides an ideal setting to study convection. Improved understanding of liquid flow physics could lead to more efficient industrial processes, semiconductors, optical materials and biological materials for use in space and on Earth.
Science Results for Everyone
Marangoni isn’t a new pasta dish, but a flow process resulting from a surface tension gradient produced by temperature differences at a liquid/gas interface. This was one of several investigations of Marangoni convection on the space station. Microgravity provides ideal convection characteristics, helping researchers better understand liquid flow characteristics, which have applications in industrial process and products such as semiconductors, optical materials, bio materials, and thermal transport devices. This investigation generated data on the aspect ratio of the onset-to-flow transition of fluids over a wide range of conditions. After 11 experiments, the investigation was terminated when the experiment cell was damaged

The following content was provided by Satoshi Matsumoto, and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Information provided courtesy of the Japan Aerospace and Exploration Agency (JAXA).
Experiment Details

OpNom: Marangoni UVP

Principal Investigator(s)
Shinichi Yoda, Japan Aerospace and Exploration Agency, Japan

Satoshi Matsumoto, Osaka City University, Osaka, Japan
Ichiro Ueno, Tokyo University of Science, Yamazaki, Japan

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), Tsukuba, Japan
IHI Aerospace Company, Ltd., Tomioka, Japan

Sponsoring Space Agency
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)

Sponsoring Organization
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency

Research Benefits
Information Pending

ISS Expedition Duration 1
October 2009 - March 2010; September 2010 - March 2011; September 2012 - September 2013; March 2015 - September 2016

Expeditions Assigned

Previous ISS Missions
Information Pending

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Experiment Description

Research Overview
The objective of the scientific research on Marangoni convection in microgravity is to better understand the flow transition phenomena from steady, to oscillatory, chaotic, and finally turbulent flows. Therefore, it is important to understand the underlying principal of Marangoni convection. The findings and knowledge obtained through this experiment can be applied to industrial processes, as well as fluid physics.

JAXA has been conducting four different Marangoni experiments to fully understand Marangoni convection in the microgravity environment on board the ISS. Fundamental questions regarding Marangoni Convection are as follows:

  1. when and how are the onset of unsteady (or oscillatory) convection determined,
  2. What are the characteristics of unsteady and three-dimensional flow, and temperature fields?
  3. What are the mechanisms that are responsible for the formation of particle accumulation structures (PASs).

Answering these questions  should contribute to the better understanding of Marangoni convection. This investigation is scheduled for completion in 2016.

On the ground, only several millimeters of the liquid bridge can be observed because the surface tension cannot support its weight due to gravity. However, microgravity conditions provides advantages: such as (1) larger and longer liquid bridges can be formed, and (2) pure and ideal Marangoni convection can be better observed. So, in this experiment, great insight into the process of Marangoni convection is expected to be learned, contributing to the advancement of basic fluid physics. Moreover, the knowledge of Marangoni convection can be useful in improving the industrial process used to make items such as semiconductors, optical materials, bio materials, welding, and micro/nano technologies. Also, the better understanding of Marangoni convection can be applied  to increase the efficiency of thermal devices, such ad heat pipes, evaporators, and condensers.

Marangoni flow is categorized in the natural convection same as buoyancy convection caused by density difference. A trait of Marangoni convection is a surface-tension-driven flow which driving force is localized at the only surface. Surface tension is the characteristic of a liquid in which it forms a layer at its surface so that this surface covers as small an area as possible. One can see the coin floating on the water. Surface tension is the force to be keeping the heavier coin on. In general, surface tension becomes strong with decreasing temperature. When a temperature difference exists along surface, the surface is pulled toward low temperature region. The surface tension difference is also produced under existing concentration distribution.

Many have heard or seen "tears of wine". It can be caused by Marangoni effect under concentration difference near the meniscus. Its effect was named after Italian physicist Calro Marangoni who mainly studied surface phenomena in 19th century. Such a phenomenon is often observed in everyday life. For example, oil in a pan heated from center moves to peripheral side. Oil floating on water immediately moves when a surfactant (e.g. detergent) drops onto a part of the oil because of the imbalance in the surface tension. The detergent caused the center to have a lower surface tension. On the other hand, the outside has a higher surface tension, so the center and the oil were pulled out in all directions to equalize the surface tension. These phenomena are resulting from Marangoni effect.

Moreover, Marangoni convection affects the quality of grown crystal such as semiconductors, optical materials or bio materials. Therefore, it is important to understand an underlying principal and nature of Marangoni convection. The finding and knowledge obtained through space experiment is applied to industrial progression as well as advance of fluid dynamics.

A liquid bridge configuration is often employed to investigate Marangoni convection because it simulates the "floating-zone method", which is one of the techniques for crystal growth. A liquid bridge (cylindrical liquid column) of silicone oil is formed into a pair of supporting solid disks. The convection is induced by imposing the temperature difference between disks, one end heating and other end cooling. Due to the convective instability, flow transits from laminar to oscillatory, chaos, and turbulence flows one by ones as the driving force increases. Scientists will observe the flow and temperature fields in each stage and investigate the flow transition conditions and processes. Fundamental questions regarding to Marangoni Convection are as follows:

  • What are the conditions that determine the onset of unsteady (or oscillatory) convection in liquid bridge?
  • What are the characteristics of unsteady, three-dimensional flow and temperature fields?
  • What are the mechanisms that are responsible for the formation of dynamic particle accumulation structures (PASs)?

Answering these questions should contribute to the better understanding of the instability mechanisms of Marangoni convection. Now, why is there a need to conduct Marangoni experiment on board the International Space Station (ISS)? On the ground, only several millimeters of the liquid bridge can be seen, because surface tension cannot support its tare weight due to gravity. On the other hand, microgravity conditions provide strong advantages as follows:
  • Large and long liquid bridges can be formed.
  • Therefore, high Marangoni numbers can be realized.
  • No density-driven convection exists.
  • No gravity-induced deformation of liquid bridge exists.
  • Very long period for experiment can be allotted utilizing the ISS.
  • Quite precise data with a wide range of parameters can be obtained by utilizing these merits in space.

At the same time, a liquid bridge is very sensitive against even week vibration (called g-jitter) in the ISS because the liquid is not contained and is sustained by the only surface tension between supporting disks. Therefore, Marangoni Experiment is performed during a crew sleeping time (21:30-06:00 GMT) when the g-jitter becomes slightly calm.

In Marangoni UVP, Marangoni convection in a liquid bridge is observed to make clear the flow transition phenomena resulting from a fluid instability. A silicone oil with a viscosity of 10 cSt(10 mm2/s), which is about ten times higher than that of water, is employed as working fluid and is suspended between a pair of solid disks (50 mm in diameter). Small amounts of fine particles are mixed into the liquid bridge for flow visualization. One of the disks is heated, and another cooled, to impose a temperature difference on both ends of the liquid bridge. The temperature difference is gradually enlarged in order to increase the driving force of a thermocapillary flow (Marangoni flow). The flow transits from steady to oscillatory flow at a certain critical temperature difference. With increasing temperature difference, the convection becomes more complicated toward turbulent via chaotic flows. These transition processes are observed in detail.
The Fluid Physics Experiment Facility (FPEF) is used and mounted in the Ryutai Rack inside the KIBO Pressurized Module. The experiment is conducted in combining FPEF and experiment unique hardware which is exchangeable according to the purpose of investigation and is called the "Experiment Cell". The FPEF is equipped with several cameras, and an Infrared Imager for flow and temperature visualizations. Three units of black and white CCD cameras are mounted near the heating disk to observe three dimensional flow pattern through the transparent sapphire disk. This system allows for constructing a 3-dimensional visualization of the flow field using the 3D Particle Tracking Velocimetry (3D-PTV) technique. A color CCD camera takes side views of the liquid bridge to check the flow pattern and liquid bridge shape. An infrared imager is used to observe the dynamic temperature distribution on the liquid bridge surface. Two Ultrasonic Velocity Profilers (UVPs) are embedded in the cooling disk. UVP is a method to measure an instantaneous velocity profile in a liquid flow by echography. This technique is expected to reveal spatio-temporal flow structure. The Marangoni experiment also uses the Image Processing Unit (IPU) and Microgravity Measurement Apparatus (MMA) with accelerometer to measure microgravity environment near the FPEF.

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Space Applications
The Marangoni investigation explores the effect of surface tension gradients on fluid flow in space. Understanding this type of fluid flow is applicable to heat exchangers and heat pipes used on the International Space Station. By studying Marangoni convection in microgravity, researchers can gain new insight into this fundamental property of mass flow and heat transfer. Results could inform future development of thermal management systems for future space missions.

Earth Applications
Marangoni convection occurs where a temperature difference exists along the surface of a liquid. This can be observed in any kitchen or wine glass:  oil in the center of a hot pan moves to the side, for instance. The “tears of wine” viewed in the shadow of a wine glass results from the lower surface tension of alcohol as compared to water. In industrial processes, Marangoni convection is important for the production of high-quality crystals, such as those used in semiconductors and optics. The interface between liquid and gas is also relevant to a wide range of micro-fluidics applications, including DNA studies and clinical diagnostics.

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Operational Requirements
Number of experiment: 25 runs Downlink of data: (Real-time) - Five channel video images from observation cameras - Telemetry concerning health & status of equipment and experimental data (e.g. temperatures, velocity profile by UVP, pressure) (Non real time) - Five channel video play back - Acceleration data file Return of samples - None

Operational Protocols
As preparation for experiment by an ISS crew, the experiment cell is assembled and installed in FPEF The experiment is operated from Space Station Integration and Promotion Center, Tsukuba Space Center by ground staffs. The experiment procedure is as follows; (1) Preparation of experiment - Starting up FPEF, EC and Image Processing Unit (IPU) - Setting of FPEF, observation systems - Start of acceleration measurement (2) Experiment - Liquid bridge formation - Adjustment of Volume ratio of liquid bridge - Imposing the temperature difference between hot and cold disks to induce convection - Video Recording - Measument of velocity profile by UVP - Bubble removal if liquid bridge contains bubble (3) Post experiment operation - Retrieving liquid bridge - Video play back down link and acceleration data files transfer - Shut down FPEF, EC and Image Processing Unit (IPU)

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Decadal Survey Recommendations

Information Pending

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Results/More Information

The Marangoni-UVP produced data to advance the field of fluid physics and obtain knowledge concerning the aspect ratio effect on the onset of flow transition over a wide range of conditions. Marangoni UVP-2 was terminated after the eleventh experiment run when the experiment cell was damaged during a sample exchange operation. Marangoni UVP-2R (UVP-2R) provided experimental data showing a strong convection regime could not be accumulated because the experiment cell was re-damaged. The damaged experiment cell will be refurbished on the ground. UVP-2RR will be manifested on a later increment in order to continue the runs not performed during the UVP-2R experiment runs.

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