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.
The effects of gravity on the crystallization of ZrF(4)-BaF(2)-LaF(3)-AlF(3)-NaF glasses have been studied using the NASA KC-135 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.