Innovators at the NASA Kennedy Space Center (KSC) have developed the Low Separation Force Quick Disconnect device for transporting pneumatic and cryogenic fluids.
Umbilical systems employ fluid connectors known as quick disconnects to transfer fluids into a vehicle. Traditional quick disconnect systems have a separation force directly proportional to the line pressure. For systems with a high line pressure, large separation forces are generated when disconnecting the flow line which requires the use of large, heavy support structures. KSC's Low Separation Force Quick Disconnect device eliminates this need for heavy support structures by ensuring low separation force regardless of line pressure, which is advantageous for systems requiring high line pressure.
The Low Separation Force Quick Disconnect device uses a seal arrangement and flow path to eliminate separation force from line pressure. A radial design ensures a low separation force regardless of line pressure. Ten holes around the internal seal cancel loads due to balanced pressure; thus, the central force exerted on the device is due to the springs fixed internally.
The device also provides for additional optional characteristics including a self-aligning feature from a compliant mount and a self-sealing mechanism that keeps dust out of the device. It is designed to transport pneumatics and cryogenic fluid.
Due to the low separation force and overall design, the system requires less heavy and high-strength support structures than conventional designs; the design permits lighter retention systems and reduces deflection variations.
Applications of this device include any mechanism in which fluid is being transferred from ground to a vehicle or another system, especially where a high line pressure is used. Companies that deal with fluid connectors such as aerospace, satellites, unmanned vehicles, as well as oil and gas may find value in the invention.
Specific uses of the invention in the aerospace industry include flight-to-ground and flight-to-flight, as well as surface-system applications.