Spacesuit Water Membrane Evaporator Development for Lunar Missions 2008-01-2114
For future lunar extra-vehicular activities (EVA), one method under consideration for rejecting crew and electronics heat involves evaporating water through a hydrophobic, porous Teflon® membrane. A Spacesuit Water Membrane Evaporator (SWME) prototype using the Teflon® membrane was tested successfully by Ungar and Thomas (2001) with predicted performance matching test data well . The above referenced work laid the foundation for the design of the SWME development unit, which is being considered for service in the Constellation System Spacesuit Element (CSSE) Portable Life Support System (PLSS). Multiple PLSS SWME configurations were considered on the basis of thermal performance, mass, volume, and performance and manufacturing risk. All configurations were a variation of an alternating concentric water and vapor channel configuration or a stack of alternating rectangular water and vapor channels. Supporting thermal performance trades mapped maximum SWME heat rejection as a function of water channel thickness, vapor channel thickness, channel length, number of water channels, porosity of the membrane structural support, and backpressure valve throat area. Preliminary designs of each configuration were developed to determine total mass and volume as well as to understand manufacturing issues. Review of configurations led to the selection of a concentric annulus configuration that meets the requirements of 800 watts (W) of heat rejection. Detailed design of the SWME development unit will be followed by fabrication of a prototype test unit, with thermal testing expected to start in 2008.