NanoRacks-Chevel Modiin Shoham-Styrofoam recycling process in microgravity (NanoRacks-CMS-Styrofoam Recycling) - 11.22.16

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

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
Polystyrene, including the brand Styrofoam, is used for a vast range of products from coffee cups to housing insulation. It does not break down naturally, but it can be recycled. NanoRacks-Chevel Modiin Shoham-Styrofoam recycling process in microgravity (NanoRacks-CMS-Styrofoam Recycling) studies the efficiency of converting polystyrene to a polymer material in microgravity.
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

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

OpNom: NanoRacks Module-9 Ext S/N 1014

Principal Investigator(s)
Chevel Modiin Shoham School , Chevel Modiin Shoham School, Shoham, Israel

Kalanit Kaslasi, Chevel Modiin Shoham School, Shoham, Israel
Zvika Weber, Chevel Modiin Shoham School, Shoham, Israel

NanoRacks LLC, Webster, TX, United States
Chevel Modiin Shoham School, Shoham, Israel

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
National Laboratory Education (NLE)

Research Benefits
Scientific Discovery

ISS Expedition Duration
March 2014 - March 2015

Expeditions Assigned

Previous Missions
Information Pending

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Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • NanoRacks-Chevel Modiin Shoham-Styrofoam recycling process in microgravity (NanoRacks-CMS-Styrofoam Recycling) evaluates the efficiency of Styrofoam recycling process in microgravity.
  • NanoRacks-CMS-Styrofoam Recycling seeks to increase the Styrofoam materials recycling process.
  • NanoRacks-CMS-Styrofoam Recycling might provide better protection of the environment. Styrofoam is a major environmental problem these days, and adopting efficient recycling process decreases the environmental risk.

NanoRacks-Chevel Modiin Shoham-Styrofoam recycling process in microgravity (NanoRacks-CMS-Styrofoam Recycling) examines the process of converting Styrofoam into a polymer type material. The MixStix is divided into three Sections with two Spacers (A and B). Section 1 contains a filter, Section 2 contains Styrofoam, and Section 3 contains acetone. By removing Spacer B, and rotating the tube by holding it at the end marked "1" the acetone and the Styrofoam mix together at the end of the tube marked "2". This process is expected to convert the Styrofoam into polymer type of material. On the ground with earth gravity, the polymer particles are linked together becoming one piece of solid. By removing Spacer A and holding the tube at the end marked "2" and rotating it, the materials move towards the tube end marked "1". The filter stops the solid particles from moving all the way to the tube end. Placing Spacer A on the other side of the filter separates the solid from the acetone and stops the process.

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Space Applications
Long-duration space missions or permanent outposts will have to carefully recycle and reuse their resources. The ability to extract new materials from used supplies, including obtaining plastic from Styrofoam, would be a great benefit. The investigation mixes Styrofoam with acetone to study whether this results in a polymer material, as it does on Earth. Understanding any differences between ground and microgravity experiments would benefit future recycling programs for long-duration missions.

Earth Applications
Polystyrene products such as Styrofoam are not biodegradable, so they add large bulk to landfills on Earth. Recycling polystyrene products reduces waste and provides materials that can be used again. Understanding the mechanics of this process improves the efficiency of polystyrene recycling, which benefits the environment on Earth. In addition, the investigation was designed by 7th grade students, who learned about the scientific method, self-learning and the process of science.

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Operational Requirements and Protocols
The MixStix are unclamped to combine different compartments, typically causing either activation or deactivation of the experiment. The MixStix are returned to the students.
A crew member removes the Velcro tabs to open the Module-9 Ext lid. The crew member unclamps the fasteners on the MixStix as directed, enabling the materials in the various chambers to flow. The crew member then shakes the MixStix (when directed) to mix the liquids thoroughly. Repeat for all MixStix. Crew member 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

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image NanoRacks-Chevel Modiin Shoham-Styrofoam recycling process in microgravity (NanoRacks-CMS-Styrofoam Recycling) MixStix diagram. Image courtesy of Chevel Modiin Shoham School.
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