Browse Publications Technical Papers 2008-01-2113
2008-06-29

A Test Plan for Sensitivity of Hollow Fiber Spacesuit Water Membrane Evaporator Systems to Potable Water Constituents, Contaminants and Air Bubbles 2008-01-2113

The Spacesuit Water Membrane Evaporator (SWME) is the baseline heat rejection technology selected for development for the Constellation lunar suit. The first SWME prototype, designed, built, and tested at Johnson Space Center in 1999 used a Teflon hydrophobic porous membrane sheet shaped into an annulus to provide cooling to the coolant loop through water evaporation to the vacuum of space. This present study describes the test methodology and planning to compare the test performance of three commercially available hollow fiber materials as alternatives to the sheet membrane prototype for SWME, in particular, a porous hydrophobic polypropylene, and two variants that employ ion exchange through non-porous hydrophilic modified Nafion. Contamination tests will be performed to probe for sensitivities of the candidate SWME elements to ordinary constituents that are expected to be found in the potable water provided by the vehicle, the target feedwater source. Some of the impurities in potable water are volatile, such as the organics, while others, such as the metals and inorganic ions are nonvolatile. The non-volatile constituents will concentrate in the SWME as evaporated water from the loop is replaced by the feedwater. At some point in the SWME mission lifecycle as the concentrations of the non-volatiles increase, the solubility limits of one or more of the constituents may be reached. The resulting presence of precipitate in the coolant water may begin to plug pores and tube channels and affect the SWME performance. Sensitivity to macro-particles, lunar dust simulant, air bubbles and back pressure regulation will also be investigated.

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