Electrostatic Levitation Furnace (ELF) (JAXA ELF) - 01.16.19

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

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
In order to produce glass, metal alloys, or other materials on Earth, a mixture of raw materials is placed in a container called a crucible, which heats up to melt the materials. But chemical reactions can occur between the materials and the crucible, causing imperfections and contaminations. The Electrostatic Levitation Furnace (JAXA-ELF) handles material in the containerless processing technique to reduce these imperfections and to investigate the behavior for high-temperature manufacturing of materials including oxides, semiconductors, insulators and alloys which are only possible in the microgravity environment of space.
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

The following content was provided by Yasuhiro Nakamura, 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: Electrostatic Levitation Furnace

Principal Investigator(s)
Takehiko Ishikawa, Ph.D., Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Tsukuba, Japan

Junpei Okada, Ph.D., Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Space Environment Utilization Center, Tsukuba, Japan

Sponsoring Space Agency
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)

Sponsoring Organization
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency

Research Benefits
Earth Benefits, Scientific Discovery

ISS Expedition Duration
September 2015 - March 2016; March 2016 - March 2019

Expeditions Assigned

Previous Missions
Information Pending

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Experiment Description

Research Overview

Production of metal oxides, semiconductors, and alloys around high melting temperatures is difficult in ground experiments because creating the needed levitation environment in normal gravity (1G) is difficult. In the thermophysical properties measurement, the effects of evaporation are severe, however inert carrier gases cannot be used to prevent electric discharge between electrodes in ground experiments. Inert gas conditions can be applied in microgravity conditions, because only small electric fields are necessary.
This research obtains data on the thermophysical properties around high melting temperatures, and to search for new functional materials by solidification, including overcooling conditions.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency Electrostatic Levitation Furnace (JAXA ELF) provides satisfactory thermophysical properties around high melting temperatures, which are not obtainable in ground experiments. Researchers can consider the possible use of industrial applications to analyze the solid state properties of the returned samples.
This research contributes to the progress of Science and Engineering.



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Space Applications
Although objects seem to float in microgravity, they do not stay in the same position because even small movements by crew members and the International Space Station itself can generate forces that disturb them. The ELF controls materials inside a container, so they do not interact with the container walls and will remain stable despite microgravity disturbances. The ELF supports a variety of physical science experiments for creating new materials and measuring their properties of high and wide temperature range.

Earth Applications
Materials that require a high melting temperature, such as oxides, semiconductors, and metal alloys, can be contaminated by chemical reactions with the container used to melt them. Avoiding those reactions requires limiting contact with the container walls, but on Earth gravity makes it difficult to levitate them into the air using static electricity. Levitating samples is simpler in microgravity because the ELF can use a smaller electric field. Results from the ELF investigation contributes to the development of containerless processing technology, benefiting manufacturers and scientists designing new materials.

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Operational Requirements and Protocols


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Decadal Survey Recommendations

Information Pending

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Results/More Information

Information Pending

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Related Websites

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