Physical Sciences

System For Measuring Osmotic Transport Properties of a Membrane

Membrane-testing operations are performed automatically. The membrane test cell (MTC) is an automated laboratory apparatus that applies a known osmotic potential across a membrane and measures the kinetics of the resulting transport of solvents across the membrane as a function of time. Data acquired by use of the MTC should prove especially helpful in designing industrial processes that rely on membrane separation techniques. Examples of such processes include desalination, recovery of designated chemicals from process streams, and some recycling operations.

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Radiometer for Measuring Cirrus-Cloud Ice and Water Vapor

Accurate measurements would contribute to understanding of weather and climate. An airborne submillimeter-wavelength radiometer, expected to be built and tested in the near future, is designed primarily to yield measurement data that can be processed to quantify the ice contents and mean sizes (and, to some extent, the shapes) of ice crystals in cirrus clouds that range from optically thin to opaque. Secondarily, this radiometer is also designed to enable the characterization of watervapor profiles in the presence of optically thick clouds. The ice and water-vapor data are needed to improve understanding of processes that affect weather and climate.

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Electrostatic/Electrodynamic Nanoparticle-Capture Vessel

Particles could be sampled under remote or automatic control in harsh environments. A proposed simple, portable, robust apparatus, capable of automated operation, has been proposed for collecting samples of selected biological or chemical species in harsh environments. The sampled species could range in size from molecules to nanoparticles (that is, particles with dimensions of the order of nanometers). The apparatus would select a biological or chemical species of interest for sampling by utilizing a combination of (1) electrostatic or electrodynamic fields and (2) a sieve containing holes of predetermined size.

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Slab-Waveguide Interferometer for Sensing Ammonia in Wet Air

Ammonia changes the pattern of interference between TM0 and TM1 waveguide modes. The figure depicts a single-arm, slabwave- guide interferometer that has been demonstrated to be useable as a means of sensing ammonia in wet air. The slabwaveguide portion of this device comprises a 2-μm-thick film of poly(methyl methacrylate) [PMMA] on a substrate of fused quartz. The PMMA layer acts as a waveguide because its index of refraction is greater than the indices of refraction of both the fused quartz on one side and the ambient air on the other side. The PMMA film is doped with bromocresol purple — an indicator dye that causes the index of refraction of the film to vary with the amount of ammonia that diffuses into the film from the ambient air. The remaining basic features of design and operation, as described below, are devoted to enhancing and measuring the change in an optical phase difference attributable to the change in the index of refraction and thus to the presence of ammonia.

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Electrohydrodynamic Conduction Pumps

Pumping is achieved without moving parts and without direct charge injection. Electrohydrodynamic (EHD) conduction pumps have been investigated in theo- retical and experimental studies. In general, EHD pumps contain no moving parts. They generate pressure gradients and/or flows in dielectric liquids via any of a variety of inter- actions between (1) applied electric fields and (2) free and/or bound electric charges in the liquids. Like a related prior device denoted an EHD iondrag pump, an EHD conduction pump exploits interactions with free charges in liquids, but unlike an ion-drag pump, a conduction pump functions without direct injection of electric charges into the liquid. In the absence of direct injection, EHD conduction pumps are the only EHD devices that can pump isothermal liquids. EHD conduction pumps could be suitable for use as compact, low-power-consumption pumps to enhance flows and thus heat-transfer rates in heat pipes and capillary-pumped loops.

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Ellipsoidal Collecting Horns for Ultrasonic Leak Detectors

Ellipsoidal reflectors have been proposed as collecting horns for ultrasonic leak det- ectors. Exploiting the classical focusing characteristics of ellipsoids, these ref- lectors would facilitate and enhance the detection of leaks in situations in which it is possible to bring leak-detecting sensors to within distances of the order of centimeters from leaks, but not closer. Leak detectors based on this concept could complement commercially available ultrasonic leak detectors equipped with paraboloidal reflectors for focusing over much longer distances. In a typical application, an ultrasonic receiving transducer would be positioned at one of the two foci of an ellipsoidal reflector. At the end opposite the transducer, the reflector would be truncated to provide an opening for the entry of sound and for positioning the reflector near a leak. When the reflector-and-transducer assembly was positioned to make the leak (or, for that matter, any other small source of ultrasound) lie at the other focus of the ellipsoid, the maximum amount of radiated ultrasound would be focused onto the transducer, resulting in maximum detector response. The principle of operation has been verified in experiments.

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Improved Capacitive Quality Meter for a Two-Phase Fluid

Features include a better electrode configuration and several hardware improvements. A previously developed quality/flow meter has been redesigned to improve its performance as a device for mea- suring the quality (but not the flow) of two-phase (liquid + vapor) oxygen or nitrogen flowing in a pipe. As used in engineering disciplines concerned with two-phase flows, “quality” denotes, loosely, volume fractions of liquid or gas. Like some other quality meters, the previously developed meter and the present meter are based on a capacitance-measurement concept: The fluid flows through a space between electrodes, the capacitance between the electrodes is measured, and the volume fractions of liquid and gas are estimated from the effective permittivity, using the known relationships (a) between the effective permittivity and the capacitance and (b) between the volume fractions and the effective permittivity. The estimate of quality can be refined by use of additional data from pressure and temperature sensors.

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