A new technology has been developed at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute located in Massachusetts to keep astronauts cool in long missions in space. The engineers of the institute developed a system in which the heat generated from ‘heat generating equipment’ and other electronics will be absorbed and carried away by using an electrically charged fluid.
This system does not have any complicated or moving parts and its reliability will make it an awesome option for long space missions that will take astronauts safely from their home planet and back. Since the safety and comfort of the astronaut is of utmost priority researches are going on to develop and conduct an orbital test of an improved version of the cooling system by the year 2021.
The technology is based on electrohydrodynamics and uses fluids that are electrically charged to circulate through small tubes in the cooling system to absorb and carry heat far away from the source. This system is different from mechanical cooling systems as it does not make any sounds or vibrations and as also require very less electrical power for its operation.
As told by the Prof Jamal Yagoobi, (head of the Mechanical Engineering department at WPI and an investigator of NSA research) the aim of the experiment is to confirm and demonstrate that the system will perform efficiently for long durations in extreme zero gravity conditions. The experiment was launched on the commercial SpaceX Dragon SpX-10 craft in February last year and will be operating on the ISS until August 2018.
The team is currently working on another experiment, which is a more complex one and is expected to be launched in the year 2021. This advanced system will use a non-mechanical two-phase EHD pumping system with a boiling and condenser system. The liquid film which is condensed will be pumped electrohydrodynamically towards the heat source, where it will boil. The bubbles generated while doing so will be extracted by another mechanism of EHD in gravity’s absence. The heat will thus be carried away from the source.
Space is a vast area that is currently being explored by humans. The development such cooling systems are critical for the future space exploration programs to come. Such systems will give the astronauts the safe feeling and comfort despite the drawbacks of being in a space environment. A lot of advanced electronics are being developed that produces a lot of heat and hence the need for such cooling systems is beyond the matter of debate.