NanoRacks-South Houston High School-Polyurethane Repair Kit for ISS (NanoRacks-SHHS-Polyurethane Repair Kit) - 11.22.16

Overview | Description | Applications | Operations | Results | Publications | Imagery

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
Polyurethane foams are strong and dense, making them beneficial materials for insulation, construction and building repairs on Earth. NanoRacks-South Houston High School-Polyurethane Repair Kit for ISS (NanoRacks-SHHS-Polyurethane Repair Kit) investigates whether these foams can be used to repair cracks or minor damage on space equipment. The investigation compares the density of commercially available polyurethane foam produced in microgravity with foam produced on Earth.
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

The following content was provided by Rob Alexander, and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Experiment Details

OpNom: Module-9 S/N 1010

Principal Investigator(s)
Angela Alexander, South Houston High School, Houston, TX, United States

Co-Investigator(s)/Collaborator(s)
Jorge Olivares, South Houston High School, Houston, TX, United States

Developer(s)
NanoRacks LLC, Webster, TX, United States

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
National Laboratory Education (NLE)

Research Benefits
Information Pending

ISS Expedition Duration
September 2013 - March 2014

Expeditions Assigned
37/38

Previous Missions
Information Pending

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Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • NanoRacks-South Houston High School-Polyurethane Repair Kit for ISS (NanoRacks-SHHS-Polyurethane Repair Kit) demonstrates the use of commercially available polyurethane repair foam on orbit.
  • NanoRacks-SHHS-Polyurethane Repair Kit examines the compressive strength and insulative effectiveness of polyurethane repair foam by comparing the density of the foams produced in microgravity and Earth’s gravity.
 

Description

Polyurethane foams are commonly used on Earth as an insulation, repair and construction material. The polymerization reaction produces carbon dioxide as a by-product. The carbon dioxide helps to build up the foam and determining, in part, its density. The density of the foam is one of the factors that determine its compressive strength and its insulation effectiveness. 
 
NanoRacks-South Houston High School-Polyurethane Repair Kit for ISS (NanoRacks-SHHS- Polyurethane Repair Kit) investigates if polyurethane foam can be used to repair cracks or damages on space equipment or structures in microgravity. The experiment compares the density of the foam produced in Earth’s gravity with the density of the foam produced in microgravity.  The expansion of the MixStix by the carbon dioxide is accounted for by leaving one chamber empty and flattened out to make it as devoid of air as possible. This reduces the pressure build up during the reaction and allows the foam density to develop to its normal level. (NRP-10009-6, S/N 1010)
 

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Applications

Space Applications

Cracks, dents and other structural damage to a spacecraft can be extremely hazardous if not repaired quickly. If polyurethane foam condenses and solidifies in a way similar to how it works on Earth, it could be used for convenient, fast structural repairs in space. Crew members activate MixStix in a NanoRacks chamber to form polyurethane foam, which produces carbon dioxide (CO2) as a byproduct of its polymerization. The CO2 helps determine the foam’s strength, density and effectiveness as an insulator, all of which influence its capacity to serve as a space-based structural material.

Earth Applications
Students from South Houston High School designed the investigation, providing hands-on experience in experimental design, engineering and project management. Students have the unique opportunity to compare results from their own ground-based experiments with data obtained on the International Space Station, connecting them to the space program.

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Operations

Operational Requirements and Protocols

The MixStix are unclamped to activate. The Module returns on the next possible flight.

A crewmember removes the Velcro tabs to open the Module-9 lid. A crewmember unclamps the fasteners on the MixStix as directed, enabling the materials in the various chambers to flow. The crewmember then shakes the MixStix (when directed) to mix the liquids thoroughly. Repeat for all MixStix. Crewmember notes the time of MixStix activation and replaces the tubes back in Module-9. The lid is replaced and secured with the Velcro tabs.

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Decadal Survey Recommendations

Information Pending

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Results/More Information

Information Pending

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Related Websites
NanoRacks

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Imagery

image
Student team from NanoRacks-South Houston High School-Polyurethane Repair Kit for ISS from L to R: Diego Medina, Arlen Suarez, Melanie Orellana, Karen Perez, Christian Escobar, and Jorge Olivares (Teacher).  

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image The flight unit (top) alongside its ground truth model for the NanoRacks-SHHS-Polyurethane Repair Kit.  On the ground, the repair foam was able to react and expand inside the mixture tube.  On the ISS, the foam was able to react and form a solid substance, but was not able to expand.  The resulting foam was darker in color and had a much higher level of hardness than the ground truth model results. The students hypothesize that the lack of convection currents in microgravity caused this phenomenon.
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image The South Houston High School team pose with their NanoRacks-SHHS-Polyurethane Repair Kit experiment at the NanoRacks facility.
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