2009

Polymeric Bladder for Storing Liquid Oxygen

A proposed system for storing oxygen in liquid form and dispensing it in gaseous form is based on (1) initial subcooling of the liquid oxygen; (2) containing the liquid oxygen in a flexible vessel; (3) applying a gas spring to the flexible vessel to keep the oxygen compressed above the saturation pressure and, thus, in the liquid state; and (4) using heat leakage into the system for vaporizing the oxygen to be dispensed. In a typical prior system based on these principles, the flexible vessel is a metal bellows housed in a rigid tank, and the gas spring consists of pressurized helium in the tank volume surrounding the bellows. Unfortunately, the welds in the bellows corrugations are subject to fatigue, and, because bellows have large ullage, a correspondingly large fraction of the oxygen content cannot be expelled. In the proposed system, the flexible vessel would be a bladder made of a liquid- crystal polymer (LCP). (LCPs are strong and compatible with liquid oxygen.) In comparison with a metal bellows, a polymeric bladder would have less ullage and would weigh less. In experiments involving fatigue cycling at liquid-nitrogen temperatures, two LCPs were found to be suitable for this application.

This work was done by David H. Walker, Andrew C. Harvey, and William Leary of Foster-Miller, Inc. for Johnson Space Center. For further information, contact the JSC Innovation Partnerships Office at (281) 483- 3809. MSC-22943-1

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