Quantim Coriolis mass flow controller
Brooks Instrument
Hatfield, PA

Transporting medical fluids that are manufactured on Earth into space is expensive and logistically challenging, so researchers at NASA’s Johnson Space Center sought a way to manufacture medical fluids in space. The Quantim Coriolis mass flow controllers from Brooks Instrument were chosen by NASA contractor ZIN Technologies for measuring water flow through a purification system to a standard IV bag that was prefilled with salt crystals and a magnetic lab stirrer. The Quantim devices are making their way into space to ensure that astronauts have medical fluids on demand for emergency needs.

An initial prototype of the medical fluid generation system, called IVGEN (IntraVenous fluid Generation), is currently being installed into a laboratory glovebox on the International Space Station. The prototype consists of an accumulator for pumping potable water, a filter unit with the flow controller installed, a data collection and control unit, a mixing module, and an IV bag with salt crystals. In operation, potable water is transferred into a bladder inside the accumulator. Nitrogen is pumped into the accumulator, forcing the water through the flow controller, and then through a series of filters and into the IV bag.

The mass flow controller works in zero gravity and passed a 6.8G RMS workmanship vibration test. The device proved to be rugged enough for the long trip to the space station, and its flow rate range from 15-25 mL/min is very important for this application. The results from the first test conducted on the station will be returned to Earth and tested for proper filtering and mixing with the salt crystals. Once IVGEN is proven to be successful, the system will be scaled accordingly to meet the requirements of manned missions to the Moon and Mars.

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