A centripetal-force-based liquid/gas separator has been proposed as a means of reducing the loss of liquid during venting of the ullage of a tank in microgravity as a new supply of liquid is pumped into the tank. Centripetal-force-based liquid/gas separators are used on Earth, where mechanical drives (e.g., pumps and spinners) are used to impart flow speeds sufficient to generate centripetal forces large enough to effect separation of liquids from gases.
For the proposed application, the separator would be designed so that there would be no need for such a pump because the tank-pressure-induced out-flow speed during venting of the ullage would be sufficient for centripetal separation. A relatively small pump would be used, not for separation, but for returning the liquid recovered by the separator to the tank.
This work was done by Bich Nguyen and Lauren Nguyen of The Boeing Co. for Johnson Space Center. For further information, contact the JSC Innovation Partnerships Office at (281) 483-3809. MSC-23230-1