2009

X-38 Advanced Sublimator

A document discusses a heat rejection device for transferring heat from a space vehicle by venting water into space through the use of a novel, two-stage water distribution system. The system consists of two different, porous media that stop water-borne contaminants from clogging the system and causing operational failures.

Feedwater passes through a small nozzle, then into a porous disk made of sintered stainless steel, and then finally into large-pore aluminum foam. The smaller pore layer of the steel disk controls the pressure drop of the feedwater. The ice forms in the foam layer, and then sublimates, leaving any contaminants behind. The pore-size of the foam is two orders of magnitude larger than the current porous plate sublimators, allowing for a greater tolerance for contaminants. Using metallic fibers in the foam also negates problems with compression seen in the use of poly(tetrafluoroethylene) felt.

This work was done by Chuck Dingell, Clemente Quintana, and Suy Le of Johnson Space Center and David S. Hafermalz, Mike Clark, and Robert Cloutier of Jacobs Sverdrup. For more information, download the Technical Support Package (free white paper) at www.techbriefs.com/tsp under the Mechanics/Machinery category. This invention is owned by NASA, and a patent application has been filed. Inquiries concerning nonexclusive or exclusive license for its commercial development should be addressed to the Patent Counsel, Johnson Space Center, (281) 483-1003. Refer to MSC- 24207-1.

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