Capillary Effects of Drinking in the Microgravity Environment (Capillary Beverage) - 11.22.16

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

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
Even mundane tasks like taking a drink are complicated in space, where microgravity affects the way fluids behave. Crew members must drink from special sealed bags instead of using straws or normal cups. Capillary Effects of Drinking in the Microgravity Environment (Capillary Beverage) studies the process of drinking from specially designed Space Cups that use fluid dynamics to mimic the effect of gravity.
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

The following content was provided by Mark Milton Weislogel, Ph.D., and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Experiment Details

OpNom: Capillary Beverage

Principal Investigator(s)
Mark Milton Weislogel, Ph.D., IRPI LLC, Wilsonville, OR, United States

Co-Investigator(s)/Collaborator(s)
John Graf, Ph.D., Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX, United States

Developer(s)
IRPI LLC, Wilsonville, OR, United States

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
National Laboratory (NL)

Research Benefits
Space Exploration, Earth Benefits, Scientific Discovery

ISS Expedition Duration
March 2015 - March 2016

Expeditions Assigned
43/44,45/46

Previous Missions
None for this hardware. Previous demonstration of possibilities using cup construction materials on ISS by Astronaut Don Pettit in conjunction with PI Mark Weislogel (on ground) during STS-126 Endeavour Mission (November 14 to November 30, 2008).

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Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • Even simple activities like drinking liquids in space is complicated by the absence of significant gravity. For example, you cannot simply pour the liquid into your mouth.
  • The Capillary Effects of Drinking in the Microgravity Environment (Capillary Beverage) experiment applies the results of recent experiments performed aboard the International Space Station (ISS) to design unique cups that mimic the role of gravity in normal drinking on Earth.
  • Rather than rely on gravity, the cup functions in a similar manner to those on Earth, but instead of gravity it uses the combined effects of surface tension, wetting, and cup geometry.
  • A primary science goal of the Capillary Beverage experiment is to photograph the drinking process comparing the results with predictions that use mathematical and computer models. The experiments vary cup shape, size, and wetting properties.
  • Quantitative data is recorded in high-definition by onboard cameras.
  • The ISS galley drinks range from simple to complex; such as, water, juice, tea, coffee, cocoa, and others.
  • A secondary, but certainly interesting goal of the experiment is to observe and enjoy the casual consumption of a variety of onboard drinks by crew members.
  • The ability to replicate common though complex tasks involving fluids in microgravity environments using other forces that are normally masked by gravity on Earth enables the design of new systems for spacecraft that operate passively, with no moving parts and without electric power requirements.
  • Surprising as it may sound, the verified and validated results of this experiment will in turn be used to design advanced fluid systems for spacecraft with significantly increased reliability.

Description

The results of recent capillary experiments performed aboard the International Space Station (ISS) are employed to design cups for drinking liquids in space in a manner similar to on Earth, where the effects of surface tension, wetting, and container geometry are exploited in a manner that mimic the role of gravity in normal drinking on Earth. The experiments have the potential for significant educational and public outreach returns as well as applied science data.
 
The objectives of the tests are to demonstrate cup geometries that exploit capillary forces enabling crew members to drink a variety of aqueous drinks in space, from simple fluids like water and juice, to more complex fluids such as cocoa, coffee, espresso and fruit smoothies. High-resolution video imagery of the wicking is expected to be of broad public interest with educational opportunities to continue discussions of living and working in space. The cups are also expected to be appealing to the crew members in addition to providing new data of applied scientific value with validation and verification of state of the art capillary design methodologies.
 
The specific goals of the Capillary Effects of Drinking in the Microgravity Environment (Capillary Beverage) experiment are to primarily (1) image the drinking phenomena for quantitative assessment of the process and general performance of the cup and to (2) demonstrate earth-like drinking from a cup that exploits capillary forces rather than gravitational forces during the casual consumption of a variety of onboard drinks.

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Applications

Space Applications
Crew members in space have to drink and eat using specially designed equipment because gravity affects the way fluids behave. Capillary Beverage studies cups that use the combined effects of surface tension, wetting, and cup shape to move liquids around, potentially making it easier to take a drink and reducing the weight and volume of drinking bags that must be sent to space. The investigation also demonstrates how research aboard the ISS can be used to design new systems for the ISS, from new drinking cups to passive fluid control systems.

Earth Applications
Space Cups are too small to be of practical use on Earth, but their design is relevant to several fields that use micro-fluidics, including medical research and drug delivery. The fluid flow processes used by the Space Cups relate to lab-on-a-chip technologies, which use fluid dynamics to transport and analyze very small amounts of liquids. In addition, members of the public can view high-resolution video of crew members drinking water, coffee, espresso and hot chocolate from the Space Cups, which inspire educational discussions about living and working in space.

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Operations

Operational Requirements and Protocols

Anticipate as many as 10 operations for each of 6 Space Cups. HD video downlink is expected with no return of samples needed.

To image the drinking phenomena for quantitative assessment of the process and general performance of the cup, set up the Space Cup Stand in the desired work area and attach a Space Cup. Configure the backlight source and HD camera. Fill a separate standard ISS drink bag with the desired drink from the galley. Squeeze the liquid from the drink bag into the cup. Observe and image the liquid adhering to the cup walls and movement per capillary effect. Observe and image equilibrium and response to small perturbations by crew (i.e., tapping). Observe intermittent and continuous imbibition by crew member.
 
To demonstrate earth-like drinking from a cup that exploits capillary forces rather than gravitational forces during the casual consumption of a variety of onboard drinks, set up the HD camera for over-the-shoulder view or handheld view. Secure selected cup(s) to galley table via the Velcro tab. Fill an ISS standard drink bag with the desired drink from the galley. Squeeze the liquid from the drink bag into the cup. Observe the liquid adhering to the cup walls and movement per capillary effect. Observe the crew member(s) as they remove cup and casually consume the drink in manner they see fit caring to avoid undue disturbance to the cup and spilling contents. If spills occur, drink them out of the air as in past crew member lunchtime drinking highlights. If multiple cups are in use, video communal use and effect.

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Decadal Survey Recommendations

Information Pending

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Results/More Information

Information Pending

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Related Websites
IRPI LLC
Astronaut demos drinking coffee in space

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Imagery

image NASA Image: ISS043E306209 - ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti takes a sip of espresso from the Capillary Beverage investigation.
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image NASA Image: ISS045E035336 - NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren getting ready to drink coffee from a capillary beverage cup.
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image NASA Image: ISS045E035321 - NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren filling a capillary beverage cup.
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Profile of 3-D printed Space Cup for the Capillary Effects of Drinking in the Microgravity Environment (Capillary Beverage) investigation. Image courtesy of Molly Meyer.

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Six Space Cups as delivered to NASA January, 2015 for the Capillary Effects of Drinking in the Microgravity Environment (Capillary Beverage) investigation. Image courtesy of Andrew Wollman.

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Front view of 3D printed Space Cup with handle for the Capillary Effects of Drinking in the Microgravity Environment (Capillary Beverage) investigation. Image courtesy of Molly Meyer.

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