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Design for space applications requires a significantly different approach than earth-bound systems, especially when fluids are involved. IRPI is a leading innovator in guiding hardware development for optimal capillary design.
Problems frequently arise in fluid systems due to surface tension forces combined with uninformed system geometry. The good news is that capillarity does not have to be considered an impediment; with proper design, it can be exploited to enhance both performance and reliability.
Fluid systems are employed throughout spacecraft for life support, thermal control, and and cryogen and liquid propellant management. In all cases accurate design is critical to achieving optimum performance and reliability. Eventually, droplets and/or bubbles arise and find their way into mission critical systems requiring routine removal to maintain performance. This may seem a minor issue, but ask any astronaut or system designer about their experience and they will quickly reveal that bubbles, droplets, and unexpected wetting have a significant effect on system performance, crew activity, and comfort.
The SE-FIT® software provides a user-friendly and highly functional extension of the original Surface Evolver. The motivations behind the development center on user accessibility and the need to better explore complex interface configurations that are routinely found aboard spacecraft, in microfluidic devices, and across a variety of applications concerning droplets and wetting behavior. To learn more about the SE-FIT® software follow the link below or contact IRPI with questions.
Capillary action is experienced every day from the mundane (i.e., sponges and burning candles) to the technological (i.e., biofluids handling and laptop thermal control). Fluid surface tension is responsible for such ubiquitous behavior which is most evident when the 'Bond' number is small, which occurs in small-scale devices on earth and large-scale systems aboard spacecraft where the effects of gravity are drastically reduced. Aboard spacecraft, capillary forces can be observed and exploited on a very large scale, controlling tons of liquid while separating gas and liquid phases—passively.