Physical Sciences

Waste-Heat-Driven Cooling Using Complex Compound Sorbents

Development of improved sorbents revives a long-neglected heat-pump concept. Improved complex-compound sorption pumps are undergoing development for use as prime movers in heat-pump systems for cooling and dehumidification of habitats for humans on the Moon and for residential and commercial cooling on Earth. Among the advantages of sorption heat-pump systems are that they contain no moving parts except for check valves and they can be driven by heat from diverse sources: examples include waste heat from generation of electric power, solar heat, or heat from combustion of natural gas.

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Role of Meteorology in Flights of a Solar-Powered Airplane

Meteorological support helped ensure safety and success of experimental high-altitude flights. In the summer of 2001, the Helios prototype solar-powered uninhabited aerial vehicle (UAV) [a lightweight, remotely piloted airplane] was deployed to the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF), at Kauai, Hawaii, in an attempt to fly to altitudes above 100,000 ft (30.48 km). The goal of flying a UAV to such high altitudes has been designated a level-I milestone of the NASA Environmental Research Aircraft and Sensor Technology (ERAST) program. In support of this goal, meteorologists from NASA Dryden Flight Research Center were sent to PMRF, as part of the flight crew, to provide current and forecast weather information to the pilots, mission directors, and planners. Information of this kind is needed to optimize flight conditions for peak aircraft performance and to enable avoidance of weather conditions that could adversely affect safety.

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Model of Mixing Layer With Multicomponent Evaporating Drops

Effects of multiple chemical components are represented with computational efficiency. A mathematical model of a three-dimensional mixing layer laden with evaporating fuel drops composed of many chemical species has been derived. The study is motivated by the fact that typical real petroleum fuels contain hundreds of chemical species. Previously, for the sake of computational efficiency, spray studies were performed using either models based on a single representative species or models based on surrogate fuels of at most 15 species. The present multicomponent model makes it possible to perform more realistic simulations by accounting for hundreds of chemical species in a computationally efficient manner.

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Ultraviolet-Absorption Spectroscopic Biofilm Monitor

Continuous monitoring could provide early warnings of potentially harmful buildups of bacteria. An ultraviolet-absorption spectrometer system has been developed as a prototype instrument to be used in continuous, real-time monitoring to detect the growth of biofilms. Such monitoring is desirable because biofilms are often harmful. For example, biofilms in potable-water and hydroponic systems act as both sources of pathogenic bacteria that resist biocides and as a mechanism for deterioration (including corrosion) of pipes.

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Miniature Radioisotope Thermoelectric Power Cubes

These devices could supply power at extremely low temperatures for years. Cube-shaped thermoelectric devices energized by a particles from radioactive decay of 244Cm have been proposed as long-lived sources of power. These power cubes are intended especially for incorporation into electronic circuits that must operate in dark, extremely cold locations (e.g., polar locations or deep underwater on Earth, or in deep interplanetary space). Unlike conventional radioisotope thermoelectric generators used heretofore as central power sources in some spacecraft, the proposed power cubes would be small enough (volumes would range between 0.1 and 0.2 cm3) to play the roles of batteries that are parts of, and dedicated to, individual electronic-circuit packages. Unlike electrochemical batteries, these power cubes would perform well at low temperatures. They would also last much longer: given that the half-life of 244Cm is 18 years, a power cube could remain adequate as a power source for years, depending on the power demand in its particular application.

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Permanent Sequestration of Emitted Gases in the Form of Clathrate Hydrates

Hydrates would be formed under natural conditions. Underground sequestration has been proposed as a novel method of permanent disposal of harmful gases emitted into the atmosphere as a result of human activity. The method was conceived primarily for disposal of carbon dioxide (CO2, greenhouse gas causing global warming), but could also be applied to CO, H2S, NOx, and chorofluorocarbons (CFCs, which are super greenhouse gases). The method is based on the fact that clathrate hydrates (e.g., CO2×6H2O) form naturally from the substances in question (e.g., CO2) and liquid water in the pores of sub-permafrost rocks at stabilizing pressures and temperatures. The proposed method would be volumetrically efficient: In the case of CO2, each volume of hydrate can contain as much as 184 volumes of gas.

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Electrochemical, H2O2-Boosted Catalytic Oxidation System

This system offers several advantages over O2-boosted systems.An improved water-sterilizing aqueous-phase catalytic oxidation system (APCOS) is based partly on the electrochemical generation of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). This H2O2-boosted system offers significant improvements over prior dissolved-oxygen water-sterilizing systems in the way in which it increases oxidation capabilities, supplies H2O2 when needed, reduces the total organic carbon (TOC) content of treated water to a low level, consumes less energy than prior systems do, reduces the risk of contamination, and costs less to operate. This system was developed as a variant of part of an improved waste-management subsystem of the life-support system of a spacecraft. Going beyond its original intended purpose, it offers the advantage of being able to produce H2O2 on demand for surface sterilization and/or decontamination: this is a major advantage inasmuch as the benign byproducts of this H2O2 system, unlike those of systems that utilize other chemical sterilants, place no additional burden of containment control on other spacecraft air- or water-reclamation systems.

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