Electrostatic Levitation Furnace (ELF) - 07.20.16

Summary | Overview | Operations | Results | Publications | Imagery

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The Electrostatic Levitation Furnace (ELF) is an experimental facility designed to levitate/melt/solidify materials by containerless processing techniques using the Electrostatic Levitation method. With this facility, thermophysical properties of high temperature melts can be measured, and solidification from deeply undercooled melts can be achieved. The ELF is located in the JEM Multipurpose Small Payload Rack (MSPR) in Kibo.
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The following content was provided by Keiji Murakami, and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Facility Details


Facility Manager(s)
Keiji Murakami, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), Tsukuba, Japan

Facility Representative(s)
Takehiko Ishikawa, Institute of Space and Astronautical Science, Tsukuba, Japan
Junpei Okada, Ph.D., Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Ibaraki, Japan
Yasuhiro Nakamura, Japan
Hayato Ohkuma, Advanced Engineering Services Co., Tsukuba, Japan
Satoshi Yukizono, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Ibaraki, Japan
Haruka Tamaru, Japan

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

Sponsoring Space Agency
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)

Sponsoring Organization
Information Pending

ISS Expedition Duration
March 2015 - September 2015; March 2016 - March 2017

Expeditions Assigned

Previous Missions
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Facility Description

Facility Overview

The Electrostatic Levitation method uses the Coulomb force between charged samples and electrodes, and it controls the sample position by using high speed feedback from the camera image.

The Electrostatic Levitation Furnace (ELF) can heat samples above 2000 degrees Celsius, using a semiconductor laser from four different directions, and can also measure the thermophysical properties (density, surface tension, and viscosity) of high temperature materials, which are very difficult to measure on ground. In addition, synthesis of new materials are other objectives of space experiments using ELF. The main targets of ELF are oxides and insulators which are not be able to be treated in other levitation furnaces on the International Space Station (ISS). The ISS/ELF was launched to ISS/Kibo in 2015.

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Facility Operations

  • The components and samples of Electrostatic Levitation Furnace (ELF) were launched aboard a cargo vehicle, and transferred to ISS/Kibo.
  • The ELF is assembled in the Work Volume of Multipurpose Small Payload Rack (MSPR) located in the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM), and Sample cartridges are installed into Chamber by crew.
  • Following the initial checkout of the assembled hardware, the experiment and operation will start by way of ground control.
  • The sample is injected with rod, and charged/position controlled/heated and melted through electrodes and Power Lasers.
  • The sample is measured and observed through sensors and cameras.
  • Images and environmental data are downlinked, and the samples are returned with sample holders to the ground for analysis.

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Decadal Survey Recommendations

Information Pending

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Results/More Information

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Results Publications

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Ground Based Results Publications

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ISS Patents

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Related Publications

    Ishikawa T, Paradis P, Yu J, Arai Y, Koshikawa N, Yoda S.  Electrostatic levitation method for containerless material processing in microgravity. Journal of Space Technology and Science. 2002; 18(1): 1.8-1.16. DOI: 10.11230/jsts.18.1_8.

    Ishikawa T, Okada J, Watanebe Y, Tamaru H, Nakamura Y.  Thermophysical property measurements of oxide melts at high temperature by electrostatic levitation furnace on the ISS. International Journal of Microgravity Science and Application. 2015; 32(4): 320410. DOI: 10.15011/ijmsa.32.320410.

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Related Websites

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