Testing of Commercial Hollow Fiber Membranes for Spacesuit Water Membrane Evaporator
Three commercial off-the-shelf hollow fiber membrane evaporators, which were modified for low pressure, were tested as potential spacesuit water membrane evaporator (SWME) heat rejection technologies at pressures below 33 pascals in a vacuum chamber. Water quality was controlled in a series of 25 tests, first by simulating potable water that was reclaimed from wastewater and then by changing periodically to simulate the ever-concentrating make-up of the circulating coolant over that which is predicted over the course of 100 extravehicular activities. Two of the systems, which are comprised of nonporous tubes with hydrophilic molecular channels as the water vapor transport mechanism, were severely impacted by increasing concentrations of cations in the water. One of the systems, which was based on hydrophobic porous polypropylene tubes, was not affected by the degrading water quality or the presence of microbes. The polypropylene system, the SWME 1, was selected for further testing.