Results of the Fluid Merging Viscosity Measurement International Space Station Experiment

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    The purpose of FMVM is to measure the rate of coalescence of two highly viscous liquid drops and correlate the results with the liquid viscosity and surface tension. The experiment takes advantage of the low gravitational free floating conditions in space to permit the unconstrained coalescence of two nearly spherical drops. The merging of the drops is accomplished by deploying them from a syringe and suspending them on Nomex threads followed by the astronaut s manipulation of one of the drops toward a stationary droplet till contact is achieved. Coalescence and merging occurs due to shape relaxation and reduction of surface energy, being resisted by the viscous drag within the liquid. Experiments were conducted onboard the International Space Station in July of 2004 and subsequently in May of 2005. The coalescence was recorded on video and down-linked near real-time. When the coefficient of surface tension for the liquid is known, the increase in contact radius can be used to determine the coefficient of viscosity for that liquid. The viscosity is determined by fitting the experimental speed to theoretically calculated contact radius speed for the same experimental parameters. Recent fluid dynamical numerical simulations of the coalescence process will be presented. The results are important for a better understanding of the coalescence process. The experiment is also relevant to liquid phase sintering, free form in-situ fabrication, and as a potential new method for measuring the viscosity of viscous glass formers at low shear rates.
  • Date Published: 2009-01-05
  • Is publication family-friendly: true
  • Publication Type: Conference Paper
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