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Working Fluids for Increasing Capacities of Heat Pipes

Fluids are formulated to make surface tensions increase with temperature. A theoretical and experimental investigation has shown that the capacities of heat pipes can be increased through suitable reformulation of their working fluids. The surface tensions of all of the working fluids heretofore used in heat pipes decrease with temperature. As explained in more detail below, the limits on the performance of a heat pipe are associated with the decrease in the surface tension of the working fluid with temperature, and so one can enhance performance by reformulating the working fluid so that its surface tension increases with temperature.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Briefs, TSP

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Hybrid Piezoelectric/Fiber-Optic Sensor Sheets

Multiple sensors of different types could be installed on or in structures.Hybrid piezoelectric/fiber-optic (HyPFO) sensor sheets are undergoing development. They are intended for use in nondestructive evaluation and long-term monitoring of the integrity of diverse structures, including aerospace, aeronautical, automotive, and large stationary ones. It is anticipated that the further development and subsequent commercialization of the HyPFO sensor systems will lead to economic benefits in the form of increased safety, reduction of life-cycle costs through real-time structural monitoring, increased structural reliability, reduction of maintenance costs, and increased readiness for service.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Briefs

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Integrated-Optic Oxygen Sensors

Compact optical oxygen sensors with self-calibration capabilities are undergoing development. A sensor of this type features a single-chip, integrated-optic design implemented by photolithographic fabrication of optical waveguides in a photosensitive porous glass. The porosity serves as both a matrix for retention of an oxygensensitive fluorescent indicator chemical and a medium for diffusion of oxygen to the chemical from the ambient air to be monitored. Each sensor includes at least one such waveguide exposed to the atmosphere and at least one covered with metal for isolation from the atmosphere. The covered one serves as a reference channel. In operation, the concentration of oxygen is deduced from the intensity and lifetime of the fluorescence in the exposed channel, with the help of calibration data acquired via the reference channel. Because the sensory chemical is placed directly in and throughout the cross section of the light path, approximately 99 percent of the light in the waveguide is available for interaction with the chemical, in contradistinction to only about 1 percent of the light in an optical sensor that utilizes evanescentwave coupling. Hence, a sensor of this type is significantly more sensitive.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Briefs

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Multisensor Arrays for Greater Reliability and Accuracy

Calibrations and replacements are needed less frequently than they are for single sensors.Arrays of multiple, nominally identical sensors with sensor-output-processing electronic hardware and software are being developed in order to obtain accuracy, reliability, and lifetime greater than those of single sensors. The conceptual basis of this development lies in the statistical behavior of multiple sensors and a multisensor-array (MSA) algorithm that exploits that behavior. In addition, advances in microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) and integrated circuits are exploited. A typical sensor unit according to this concept includes multiple MEMS sensors and sensor-readout circuitry fabricated together on a single chip and packaged compactly with a microprocessor that performs several functions, including execution of the MSA algorithm.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Briefs

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Module for Oxygenating Water Without Generating Bubbles

No bubbles were observed at any of the test flow rates. A module that dissolves oxygen in water at concentrations approaching saturation, without generating bubbles of oxygen gas, has been developed as a prototype of improved oxygenators for water-disinfection and water-purification systems that utilize photocatalyzed redox reactions. Depending on the specific nature of a water-treatment system, it is desirable to prevent the formation of bubbles for one or more reasons: (1) Bubbles can remove some organic contaminants from the liquid phase to the gas phase, thereby introducing a gastreatment problem that complicates the overall water-treatment problem; and/or (2) in some systems (e.g., those that must function in microgravity or in any orientation in normal Earth gravity), bubbles can interfere with the flow of the liquid phase.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Briefs

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Selected Papers on Protoplanetary Disks

Three papers present studies of thermal balances, dynamics, and electromagnetic spectra of protoplanetary disks, which comprise gas and dust orbiting young stars. One paper addresses the reprocessing, in a disk, of photons that originate in the disk itself in addition to photons that originate in the stellar object at the center. The shape of the disk is found to strongly affect the redistribution of energy. Another of the three papers reviews an increase in the optical luminosity of the young star FU Orionis. The increase began in the year 1936 and similar increases have since been observed in other stars. The paper summarizes astronomical, meteoric, and theoretical evidence that these increases are caused by increases in mass fluxes through the inner portions of the protoplanetary disks of these stars. The remaining paper presents a mathematical-modeling study of the structures of protostellar accretion disks, with emphasis on limits on disk flaring. Among the conclusions reached in the study are that (1) the radius at which a disk becomes shadowed from its central stellar object depends on radial mass flow and (2) most planet formation has occurred in environments unheated by stellar radiation.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Briefs

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Part 1 of a Computational Study of a Drop-Laden Mixing Layer

This first of three reports on a computational study of a drop-laden temporal mixing layer presents the results of direct numerical simulations (DNS) of well-resolved flow fields and the derivation of the large-eddy simulation (LES) equations that would govern the larger scales of a turbulent flow field. The mixing layer consisted of two counterflowing gas streams, one of which was initially laden with evaporating liquid drops. The gas phase was composed of two perfect gas species, the carrier gas and the vapor emanating from the drops, and was computed in an Eulerian reference frame, whereas each drop was tracked individually in a Lagrangian manner. The flow perturbations that were initially imposed on the layer caused mixing and eventual transition to turbulence. The DNS database obtained included transitional states for layers with various liquid mass loadings. For the DNS, the gas-phase equations were the compressible Navier-Stokes equations for conservation of momentum and additional conservation equations for total energy and species mass. These equations included source terms representing the effect of the drops on the mass, momentum, and energy of the gas phase. From the DNS equations, the expression for the irreversible entropy production (dissipation) was derived and used to determine the dissipation due to the source terms. The LES equations were derived by spatially filtering the DNS set and the magnitudes of the terms were computed at transitional states, leading to a hierarchy of terms to guide simplification of the LES equations. It was concluded that effort should be devoted to the accurate modeling of both the subgridscale fluxes and the filtered source terms, which were the dominant unclosed terms appearing in the LES equations.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Briefs, TSP

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