Tag Archives: microgravity

Utilization of Low Gravity Environment for Measuring Liquid Viscosity

The method of drop coalescence is used for determining the viscosity of highly viscous undercooled liquids. Low gravity environment is necessary in order to allow for examining large volumes affording much higher accuracy for the viscosity calculations than possible for smaller volumes available under 1 – g conditions. The drop coalescence method is preferred over the drop oscillation technique since the latter method can only be applied for liquids with vanishingly small viscosities. The technique developed relies on both the highly accurate solution of the Navier-Stokes equations as well as on data from experiments conducted in near zero gravity environment. Results are presented for method validation experiments recently performed on board the NASA/KC-135 aircraft. While the numerical solution was produced using the Boundary Element Method. In these tests the viscosity of a highly viscous liquid, glycerine at room temperature, was determined using the liquid coalescence method. The results from these experiments will be discussed.

Viscosity Measurement of Highly Viscous Liquids Using Drop Coalescence in Low Gravity

The method of drop coalescence is being investigated for use as a method for determining the viscosity of highly viscous undercooled liquids. Low gravity environment is necessary in this case to minimize the undesirable effects of body forces and liquid motion in levitated drops. Also, the low gravity environment will allow for investigating large liquid volumes which can lead to much higher accuracy for the viscosity calculations than possible under 1 – g conditions. The drop coalescence method is preferred over the drop oscillation technique since the latter method can only be applied for liquids with vanishingly small viscosities. The technique developed relies on both the highly accurate solution of the Navier-Stokes equations as well as on data from experiments conducted in near zero gravity environment. In the analytical aspect of the method two liquid volumes are brought into contact which will coalesce under the action of surface tension alone. The free surface geometry development as well as its velocity during coalescence which are obtained from numerical computations are compared with an analogous experimental model. The viscosity in the numerical computations is then adjusted to bring into agreement of the experimental results with the calculations. The true liquid viscosity is the one which brings the experiment closest to the calculations. Results are presented for method validation experiments performed recently on board the NASA/KC-135 aircraft. The numerical solution for this validation case was produced using the Boundary Element Method. In these tests the viscosity of a highly viscous liquid, in this case glycerine at room temperature, was determined to high degree of accuracy using the liquid coalescence method. These experiments gave very encouraging results which will be discussed together with plans for implementing the method in a shuttle flight experiment.

Viscosity Measurement using Drop Coalescence in Microgravity

We present in here details of a new method, using drop coalescence, for application in microgravity environment for determining the viscosity of highly viscous undercooled liquids. The method has the advantage of eliminating heterogeneous nucleation at container walls caused by crystallization of undercooled liquids during processing. Also, due to the rapidity of the measurement, homogeneous nucleation would be avoided. The technique relies on both a highly accurate solution to the Navier-Stokes equations as well as on data gathered from experiments conducted in near zero gravity environment. The liquid viscosity is determined by allowing the computed free surface shape relaxation time to be adjusted in response to the measured free surface velocity of two coalescing drops. Results are presented from two validation experiments of the method which were conducted recently on board the NASA KC-135 aircraft. In these tests the viscosity of a highly viscous liquid, such as glycerine at different temperatures, was determined to reasonable accuracy using the liquid coalescence method. The experiments measured the free surface velocity of two glycerine drops coalescing under the action of surface tension alone in low gravity environment using high speed photography. The free surface velocity was then compared with the computed values obtained from different viscosity values. The results of these experiments were found to agree reasonably well with the calculated values.

Fourth United States Microgravity Payload: One Year Report

This document reports the one year science results for the Fourth United States Microgravity Payload (USMP-4). The USMP-4 major experiments were on a support structure in the Space Shuttle’s payload bay and operated almost completely by the Principal Investigators through telescience. The mission included a Glovebox where the crew performed additional experiments for the investigators. Together about eight major scientific experiments were performed, advancing the state of knowledge in fields such as low temperature physics, solidification, and combustion. The results demonstrate the range of quality science that can be conducted utilizing orbital laboratories in microgravity and provide a look forward to a highly productive Space Station era.

Mechanisms for the Crystallization of ZBLAN

A number of research teams have observed that glass forming melts that are solidified in low-g exhibit enhanced glass formation. This project will examine one of these glasses, the heavy metal fluoride glass ZBLAN. A four year ground based research program has been approved to examine the crystallization of ZBLAN glasses with the purpose of testing a theory for the crystallization of ZBLAN glass. The theory could explain the general observations of enhanced glass formation of other glasses melted and solidified in low-g. Fluid flow in 1-g results from buoyancy forces and surface tension driven convection. This fluid flow can introduce shear in undercooled liquids in 1-g. In low-g it is known that fluid flows are greatly reduced so that the shear rate in fluids in low-g are extremely low. It is believed that fluids may have some weak structure in the absence of flow. Even very small shear rates could cause this structure to collapse in response to the shear. A general result would be shear thinning of the fluid. The hypothesis of this research is that: Shear thinning in undercooled liquids increases the rate of nucleation and crystallization of glass forming melts. Shear of the melt can be reduced in low-g enhancing undercooling and glass formation. Samples will be melted and quenched in 1-g under quiescent conditions at a number of controlled cooling rates to determine times and temperatures of crystallization and heated at controlled heating rates to determine kinetic crystallization parameters. Experiments will also be performed on the materials while under controlled vibration conditions and compared with the quiescent experiments in order to evaluate the effect of shear in the liquid on crystallization kinetics. After the experimental parameters are well known, experiments will be repeated under low-g (and 2-g) conditions on the KC-135 aircraft during low-g parabolic maneuvers. The results will determine the effects of shear on crystallization. Our experimental setups will be designed with low-g experiments in mind and will be tested as breadboard low-g experiments. It is very likely that the thermal analysis instrumentation can be adapted to be run in the microgravity glovebox facilities. Critical space experiments may result to test the theory at longer low-g time experiments in space.

Mechanisms for the Crystallization of Zblan

The heavy metal fluoride glasses represent a class of reasonably good glass forming compositions with very unique infrared optical properties that have been of interest to researchers for 20 years. The most extensively studied glass with the most potential for practical applications is ZBLAN which contains the fluorides of zirconium, barium, lanthanum, aluminum, and sodium. It has a broad transmission range (0.3-6 um), low index of refraction (about 1.43), low dispersion, low Raleigh scattering, ultra-low thermal 2 dispersion, and potential ultra-low signal attenuation. Potential applications include fiber amplifiers, fiber optic gyroscopes, delivery systems for laser cutting, drilling and surgery, radiation resistant data links, nonlinear optical systems, and ultra-low-loss repeater-less transcontinental and transoceanic optical fiber. Potential markets for these materials are in the tens of billions of dollars per year. Optical fiber from this system possess excellent transmission characteristics in the IR, but the glass is somewhat susceptible to nucleation and crystallization. The theoretical intrinsic loss coefficient for ZBLAN at 2 microns is 0.00 1 dB/Km. Extrinsic losses, however, cause significant attenuation. The lowest loss coefficient measured is 0.7 dB/Km. This compares with the loss coefficient for fiber optic grade fused silica glass of 0.2 dB/Km. The extrinsic losses in ZBLAN have been attributed to 1) impurities which might be lowered by containerless processing and 2) to scattering from micro-crystallites that form during glass preform production or during fiber drawing.

Viscosity Measurement Using Drop Coalescence in Microgravity

We present in here validation studies of a new method for application in microgravity environment which measures the viscosity of highly viscous undercooled liquids using drop coalescence. The method has the advantage of avoiding heterogeneous nucleation at container walls caused by crystallization of undercooled liquids during processing. Homogeneous nucleation can also be avoided due to the rapidity of the measurement using this method. The technique relies on measurements from experiments conducted in near zero gravity environment as well as highly accurate analytical formulation for the coalescence process. The viscosity of the liquid is determined by allowing the computed free surface shape relaxation time to be adjusted in response to the measured free surface velocity for two coalescing drops. Results are presented from two sets of validation experiments for the method which were conducted on board aircraft flying parabolic trajectories. In these tests the viscosity of a highly viscous liquid, namely glycerin, was determined at different temperatures using the drop coalescence method described in here. The experiments measured the free surface velocity of two glycerin drops coalescing under the action of surface tension alone in low gravity environment using high speed photography. The liquid viscosity was determined by adjusting the computed free surface velocity values to the measured experimental data. The results of these experiments were found to agree reasonably well with the known viscosity for the test liquid used.

Effects of Gravity on ZBLAN Glass Crystallization

The effects of gravity on the crystallization of ZrF4-BaF2-LaF3-AlF3- NaF glasses have been studied utilizing NASA’s KC135 and a sounding rocket, Fibers and cylinders of ZBLAN glass were heated to the crystallization temperature in unit and reduced gravity. When processed in unit gravity the glass crystallized, but when processed in reduced gravity, crystallization was suppressed. A possible explanation involving shear thinning is presented to explain these results.

Low Gravity Rapid Thermal Analysis of Glass

It has been observed by two research groups that ZrF4-BaF2-LaF3-AlF3-NaF (ZBLAN) glass crystallization is suppressed in microgravity. The mechanism for this phenomenon is unknown at the present time. In order to better understand the mechanism, an experiment was performed on NASA’s KC135 reduced gravity aircraft to obtain quantitative crystallization data. An apparatus was designed and constructed for performing rapid thermal analysis of milligram quantities of ZBLAN glass. The apparatus employs an ellipsoidal furnace allowing for rapid heating and cooling. Using this apparatus nucleation and crystallization kinetic data was obtained leading to the construction of time-temperature-transformation curves for ZBLAN in microgravity and unit gravity.

Mechanisms for the Crystallization of ZBLAN

The objective of this ground based study is to test the hypothesis that shear thinning (the non-Newtonian response of viscosity to shear rate) is a viable mechanism to explain the observation of enhanced glass formation in numerous low-g experiments. In 1-g, fluid motion results from buoyancy forces and surface tension driven convection. This fluid flow will introduce shear in undercooled liquids in 1-g. In low-g it is known that fluid flows are greatly reduced so that the shear rate in fluids can be extremely low. It is believed that some fluids may have weak structure in the absence of flow. Very small shear rates could cause this structure to collapse in response to shear resulting in a lowering of the viscosity of the fluid. The hypothesis of this research is that: Shear thinning in undercooled liquids decreases the viscosity, increasing the rate of nucleation and crystallization of glass forming melts. Shear in the melt can be reduced in low-g, thus enhancing undercooling and glass formation. The viscosity of a model glass (lithium di-silicate, L2S) often used for crystallization studies has been measured at very low shear rates using a dynamic mechanical thermal analyzer. Our results are consistent with increasing viscosity with a lowering of shear rates. The viscosity of L2S may vary as much as an order of magnitude depending on the shear rate in the temperature region of maximum nucleation and crystal growth. Classical equations for nucleation and crystal growth rates, are inversely related to the viscosity and viscosity to the third power respectively. An order of magnitude variation in viscosity (with shear) at a given temperature would have dramatic effects on glass crystallization Crystallization studies with the heavy metal fluoride glass ZBLAN (ZrF2-BaF2-LaF3-AlF3-NaF) to examine the effect of shear on crystallization are being initiated. Samples are to be melted and quenched under quiescent conditions at different shear rates to determine the effect on crystallization. The results from this study are expected to advance the current scientific understanding of glass formation in low-g and glass crystallization under glass molding conditions and will improve the scientific understanding of technological processes such as fiber pulling, bulk amorphous alloys, and glass fabrication processes.