Dewar flasks have been proposed as containers for relatively long-term (25 days) storage of perishable scientific samples or other perishable objects at a temperature of –175 °C. The refrigeration would be maintained through slow boiling of liquid nitrogen (LN2). For the purposes of the application for which these containers were proposed, (1) the neck openings of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) Dewar flasks are too small for most NASA samples; (2) the round shapes of the COTS containers give rise to unacceptably low efficiency of packing in rectangular cargo compartments; and (3) the COTS containers include metal structures that are too thermally conductive, such that they cannot, without exceeding size and weight limits, hold enough LN2 for the required long-term-storage.

In comparison with COTS Dewar flasks, the proposed containers would be rectangular, yet would satisfy the long-term storage requirement without exceeding size and weight limits; would have larger neck openings; and would have greater sample volumes, leading to a packing efficiency of about double the sample volume as a fraction of total volume. The proposed containers would be made partly of aerospace- type composite materials and would include vacuum walls, multilayer insulation, and aerogel insulation.

This work was done by Warren P. Ruemmele of Johnson Space Center; John Manry, Kristin Stafford, and Grant Bue of Lockheed Martin Corp.; George R. Rowland, Jr., and John Krejci of Hernandez Engineering; and Bent Evernden of Rothe Joint Venture, L.P. For further information, contact the Johnson Commercial Technology Office at (281) 483-3809. MSC-23761-1

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the January, 2010 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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