Two-Phase Flow in Packed Columns and Generation of Bubbly Suspensions for Chemical Processing in Space 2000-01-2239
For long-duration space missions, the life support and In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) systems necessary to lower the mass and volume of consumables carried from Earth will require more sophisticated chemical processing technologies involving gas-liquid two-phase flows. This paper discusses some preliminary two-phase flow work in packed columns and generation of bubbly suspensions, two types of flow systems that can exist in a number of chemical processing devices.
The experimental hardware for a co-current flow packed column operated in two ground-based low gravity facilities (two-second drop tower and KC-135 low-gravity aircraft) is described. The preliminary results of this experimental work are discussed. The flow regimes observed and the conditions under which these flow regimes occur are compared with the available co-current packed column experimental work performed in normal gravity.
For bubbly suspensions, the experimental hardware for generation of uniformly sized bubbles in Couette flow in microgravity conditions is described. Experimental work was performed on a number of bubbler designs, and the capillary bubble tube was found to produce the most consistent size bubbles. Low air flow rates and low Couette flow produce consistent 2-3 mm bubbles, the size of interest for the “Behavior of Rapidly Sheared Bubbly Suspension” flight experiment. Finally the mass transfer implications of these two-phase flows is qualitatively discussed.