Spacecraft Cooling Technology Could Keep Astronauts Cool On Their Mars Mission

Developed by the engineers of the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Massachusetts, the system uses electrically charged fluids to carry heat and to absorb away from electronics and heat-generating equipment. 

The simplicity and reliability of the technology make it as an attractive option for long-term space missions that will take most of the astronauts far from the security of being away from the home planet. The technology is still under orbital test to determine if the version of the cooling system if reliable. 

Based on the electrohydrodynamics, (EHD), the cooling system technology uses electrically charged fluids that continuously flow through the tiny tubes in the cooling system, carrying out and absorbing the heat away from its source. The developers of the cooling system technology claim that unlike any other cooling system, the technology creates no noise or vibrations and only requires minimal power to operate. 

According to the head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at WPI, Professor Jamal Yagoobi, the primary goal of the experiment was to demonstrate and prove that the system an function in a zero gravity condition for a long period. Yagoobi also added that this is the first time for this cooling pump technology to be in space and the expected outcome is very positive. The positive outcome of the cooling system is what makes the team position themselves to the next phase of their work. 

Today, the team is currently working on a more complex experiment that is scheduled to launch in the year 2021. The said the more advanced system would be using a two-phase, non-mechanical EHD pumping system. It will also use a boiling section and a condenser section. The condensed liquid film is electrohydrodynamically pumped into the heat source, where it boils. 

The generated bubbles during the boiling are then extracted by another EHD mechanism with the absence of the gravity which carries the heat away from the source of heat. The liquid is then condensed and pumped back to the source of heat. 

Yagoobi also added that the development of the cooling system for the spacecraft technology would eventually affect the future of most space exploration. As the technology advanced, a lot of technology will be jammed into a small area in the satellite or a spacecraft. Yagoobi also said that they would continue to use advanced electronics to produce a lot more heat.