(ORDO NEWS) — Obtaining oxygen using magnets will help astronauts in long-distance flights
An international team of scientists has come up with a potentially better way to get oxygen for astronauts in space using magnetism.
The conclusion comes from new research published in npj Microgravity by scientists from the University of Warwick in the UK, the University of Colorado Boulder and the Free University of Berlin in Germany.
Supporting astronauts aboard the International Space Station and other spacecraft is complex and costly. As humans plan future missions to the Moon or Mars, better technology will be needed.
“At the ISS, oxygen is generated using an electrolytic cell that separates water into hydrogen and oxygen, but then the gases must be removed from the system.
A relatively recent analysis from a NASA researcher showed that adapting the same architecture for travel to Mars would result in such significant losses in mass and reliability that it makes no sense to use it,” said lead author Alvaro Romero-Calvo, PhD, University of Colorado. in Boulder.
NASA currently uses centrifuges to expel gases, but they take up a lot of space and require significant energy and maintenance.
At the same time, the group carried out experiments demonstrating that magnets can in some cases give the same results.
Although diamagnetic forces are well known and understood, their use by space engineers has not been fully explored because gravity makes it difficult to demonstrate the technology on Earth.
The Center for Applied Space Technologies and Microgravity in Germany conducted successful experiments on a special facility that simulates microgravity conditions.
Teams of scientists have developed a procedure for separating gas bubbles from electrode surfaces under microgravity generated within 9.2 seconds at the Bremen Drip Tower.
This study demonstrates for the first time that a simple neodymium magnet can “attract” and “repel” gas bubbles in microgravity by immersing itself in various types of aqueous solution.
This research could open up new opportunities for scientists and engineers developing oxygen systems, as well as other space research related to liquid-to-gas phase transitions.
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