The purpose of the Permeable Membrane Experiment is to gather flight data on three areas of membrane performance that are influenced by the presence of gravity. These areas are: (1) liquid/gas phase separation, (2) gas bubble interference with diffusion through porous membranes and (3) wetting characteristics of hydrophilic membrane surfaces. These data are important in understanding the behavior of membrane/liquid/gas interfaces where surface tension forces predominate. The data will be compared with 1-g data already obtained and with predicted microgravity behavior. The data will be used to develop designs for phase separation and plant nutrient delivery systems and will be available to the life support community for use in developing technologies which employ membranes.
A conceptual design has been developed to conduct three membrane experiments, in sequence, aboard a single Complex Autonomous Payload (CAP) carrier to be carried in the Shuttle Orbiter payload bay. One experiment is conducted for each of the three membrane performance areas under study. These experiments are discussed in this paper.