Tech Briefs

Hollow-Fiber Spacesuit Water Membrane Evaporator

Commercial applications include personal coolers for infantry, humidifiers for pilots, and personal coolers for hazmat suits.

The hollow-fiber spacesuit water membrane evaporator (HoFi SWME) is being developed to perform the thermal control function for advanced spacesuits and spacecraft to take advantage of recent advances in micropore membrane technology in providing a robust, heat-rejection device that is less sensitive to contamination than is the sublimator. After recent contamination tests, a commercial-off- the-shelf (COTS) micro porous hollow-fiber membrane was selected for prototype development as the most suitable candidate among commercial hollow-fiber evaporator alternatives. An innovative design that grouped the fiber layers into stacks, which were separated by small spaces and packaged into a cylindrical shape, was developed into a full-scale prototype for the spacesuit application.

Vacuum chamber testing has been performed to characterize heat rejection as a function of inlet water temperature and water vapor back-pressure, and to show contamination resistance to the constituents expected to be found in potable water produced by the waste-water reclamation distillation processes. Other tests showed tolerance to freezing and suitability to reject heat in a Mars pressure environment. In summary, HoFi SWME is a lightweight, compact evaporator for heat rejection in the spacesuit that is robust, contamination-insensitive, freeze-tolerant, and able to reject the required heat of spacewalks in microgravity, lunar, and Martian environments.

The HoFi is packaged to reject 810 W of heat through 800 hours of use in a vacuum environment, and 370 W in a Mars environment. The device also eliminates free gas and dissolved gas from the coolant loop.

This work was done by Grant Bue and Luis Trevino of Johnson Space Center; Gus Tsioulos of Wyle; Keith Mitchell of Jacobs Technology, Inc.; and Joseph Settles of Barrios. MSC-24849-1

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Hollow-Fiber Spacesuit Water Membrane Evaporator (reference MSC-24849-1) is currently available for download from the TSP library.

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