Physical Sciences

Turbulence in Supercritical O₂/H₂ and C₇H₁₆/N₂ Mixing Layers

This report presents a study of numerical simulations of mixing layers developing between opposing flows of paired fluids under supercritical conditions, the purpose of the study being to elucidate chemical-species- specific aspects of turbulence. The simulations were performed for two different fluid pairs — O2/H2 and C7H16/N2 — at similar reduced initial pressures (reduced pressure is defined as pressure ÷ critical pressure). Thermodynamically, O2/H2 behaves more nearly like an ideal mixture and has greater solubility, relative to C7H16/N2, which departs strongly from ideality. Because of a specified smaller initial density stratification, the C7H16/N2 layers exhibited greater levels of growth, global molecular mixing, and turbulence. However, smaller density gradients at the transitional state for the O2/H2 system were interpreted as indicating that locally, this system exhibits enhanced mixing as a consequence of its greater solubility and closer approach to ideality. These thermodynamic features were shown to affect entropy dissipation, which was found to be larger for O2/H2 and concentrated in high-density-gradient-magnitude regions that are distortions of the initial density-stratification boundary. In C7H16/N2, the regions of largest dissipation were found to lie in high-density-gradient-magnitude regions that result from mixing of the two fluids.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Physical Sciences, Computational fluid dynamics, Mathematical models, Thermodynamics, Thermodynamics

Throttling Cryogen Boiloff To Control Cryostat Temperature

An improved design has been proposed for a cryostat of a type that maintains a desired low temperature mainly through boiloff of a liquid cryogen (e.g., liquid nitrogen) at atmospheric pressure. (A cryostat that maintains a low temperature mainly through boiloff of a cryogen at atmospheric pressure is said to be of the pour/fill Dewar-flask type because its main component is a Dewar flask, the top of which is kept open to the atmosphere so that the liquid cryogen can boil at atmospheric pressure and cryogenic liquid can be added by simply pouring it in.) The major distinguishing feature of the proposed design is control of temperature and cooling rate through control of the flow of cryogen vapor from a heat exchanger. At a cost of a modest increase in complexity, a cryostat according to the proposal would retain most of the compactness of prior, simpler pour/fill Dewar-flask cryostats, but would utilize cryogen more efficiently (intervals between cryogen refills could be longer).

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Physical Sciences, Switches, Switches, Containers, Cooling

Thermo-Electron Ballistic Coolers or Heaters

Electronic heat-transfer devices of a proposed type would exploit some of the quantum-wire-like, pseudo-superconducting properties of single-wall carbon nanotubes or, optionally, room- temperature- superconducting polymers (RTSPs). The devices are denoted thermo-electron ballistic (TEB) coolers or heaters because one of the properties that they exploit is the totally or nearly ballistic (dissipation or scattering free) transport of electrons. This property is observed in RTSPs and carbon nanotubes that are free of material and geometric defects, except under conditions in which oscillatory electron motions become coupled with vibrations of the nanotubes. Another relevant property is the high number density of electrons passing through carbon nanotubes — sufficient to sustain electron current densities as large as 100 MA/cm2. The combination of ballistic motion and large current density should make it possible for TEB devices to operate at low applied potentials while pumping heat at rates several orders of magnitude greater than those of thermoelectric devices. It may also enable them to operate with efficiency close to the Carnot limit. In addition, the proposed TEB devices are expected to operate over a wider temperature range.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Physical Sciences, Heat exchangers, Heat exchangers, Cooling, Nanotechnology

Proton Collimators for Fusion Reactors

Proton collimators have been proposed for incorporation into inertial- electrostatic- confinement (IEC) fusion reactors. Such reactors have been envisioned as thrusters and sources of electric power for spacecraft and as sources of energetic protons in commercial ion-beam applications. An artist's concept for an IEC powered spaceship designed for round trip missions to Mars and Jupiter is shown in the figure.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Physical Sciences, Nuclear energy, Product development, Spacecraft

Floating Probe Assembly for Measuring Temperature of Water

A floating apparatus denoted a temperature probe aquatic suspension system (TPASS) has been developed for measuring the temperature of an ocean, lake, or other natural body of water at predetermined depths. These types of measurements are used in computer models to relate remotely sensed water-surface temperature to bulk- water temperature. Prior instruments built for the same purpose were found to give inaccurate readings because the apparatuses themselves significantly affected the temperatures of the water in their vicinities. The design of the TPASS is intended to satisfy a requirement to minimize the perturbation of the temperatures to be measured.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Physical Sciences, Mathematical models, Measurements, Water, Test equipment and instrumentation, Thermal testing

Subsonic and Supersonic Effects in Bose-Einstein Condensate

A paper presents a theoretical investigation of subsonic and supersonic effects in a Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC). The BEC is represented by a time-dependent, nonlinear Schroedinger equation that includes terms for an external confining potential term and a weak interatomic repulsive potential proportional to the number density of atoms. From this model are derived Madelung equations, which relate the quantum phase with the number density, and which are used to represent excitations propagating through the BEC. These equations are shown to be analogous to the classical equations of flow of an inviscid, compressible fluid characterized by a speed of sound (g/ρ0)1/2, where g is the coefficient of the repulsive potential and ρ0 is the unperturbed mass density of the BEC. The equations are used to study the effects of a region of perturbation moving through the BEC. The excitations created by a perturbation moving at subsonic speed are found to be described by a Laplace equation and to propagate at infinite speed. For a supersonically moving perturbation, the excitations are found to be described by a wave equation and to propagate at finite speed inside a Mach cone.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Physical Sciences, Computational fluid dynamics, Mathematical models, Acoustics, Acoustics

Irreversible Entropy Production in Two-Phase Mixing Layers

This report presents a study of dissipation (irreversible production of entropy) in three-dimensional, temporal mixing layers laden with evaporating liquid drops. The purpose of the study is to examine the effects of evaporating drops on the development of turbulent features in flows. Direct numerical simulations were performed to analyze transitional states of three mixing layers: one without drops, and two that included drops at different initial mass loadings. Without drops, the dissipation is essentially due to viscous effects. It was found that in the presence of drops, the largest contribution to dissipation was made by heating and evaporation of the drops, and that at large length scales, this contribution is positive (signifying that the drops reduce turbulence), while at small scales, this contribution is negative (the drops increase turbulence). The second largest contribution to dissipation was found to be associated with the chemical potential, which leads to an increase in turbulence at large scales and a decrease in turbulence at small scales. The next smaller contribution was found to be that of viscosity. The fact that viscosity effects are only third in order of magnitude in the dissipation is in sharp contrast to the situation for the mixing layer without the drops. The next smaller contribution — that of the drag and momentum of the vapor from the drops — was found to be negative at lower mass loading but to become positive at higher mass loading.
Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Physical Sciences, Computational fluid dynamics, Computer simulation, Fuel injection

Microscale Thermal-Transpiration Gas Pump

A recent addition to the growing class of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) is a single stage of a Knudsen compressor. This device was fabricated and tested to demonstrate the feasibility of Knudsen compressors as miniature vacuum pumps for future portable scientific instruments. The attributes of Knudsen compressors that make them attractive as miniature vacuum pumps are that they contain no moving parts and operate without need for lubricants or working fluids.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Physical Sciences, Microelectricmechanical device, Microelectromechanical devices, Microelectricmechanical device, Microelectromechanical devices, Gases, Compressors, Pumps

Compact Instruments Measure Helium-Leak Rates

Compact, lightweight instruments have been developed for measuring small flows of helium and/or detecting helium leaks in solenoid valves when the valves are nominally closed. These instruments do not impede the flows when the valves are nominally open. They can be integrated into newly fabricated valves or retrofitted to previously fabricated valves. Each instrument includes an upstream and a downstream thermistor separated by a heater, plus associated analog and digital heater-control, signal-conditioning, and data-processing circuits. The thermistors and heater are off-the-shelf surface mount components mounted on a circuit board in the flow path. The operation of the instrument is based on a well-established thermal mass-flow-measurement technique: Convection by the flow that one seeks to measure gives rise to transfer of heat from the heater to the downstream thermistor. The temperature difference measured by the thermistors is directly related to the rate of flow. The calibration curve from temperature gradient to helium flow is closely approximated via fifth-order polynomial. A microprocessor that is part of the electronic circuitry implements the calibration curve to compute the flow rate from the thermistor readings.
Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences, Failure analysis, Integrated circuits, Integrated circuits, Gases, Valves, Test equipment and instrumentation

Improved Measurement of Coherence in Presence of Instrument Noise

A method for correcting measured coherence spectra for the effect of incoherent instrument noise has been developed and demonstrated. Coherence measurements are widely used in engineering and science to determine the extent to which two signals are alike. The signals may come from two different sources or from the same source at different times. The coherence of time- lagged signals from a single source is an excellent indication of the effective lifetime of the signal components as a function of their frequency. Unfortunately, incoherent instrument noise will bias the measurement to lower values and may lead the user of the data to false conclusions about the longevity of significant features.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences, Measurements, Noise, Noise, Test procedures

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