Bubble Formation and Transport During Directional Solidification in Microgravity: Model Experiments on the Space Station
Richard, Grugel, et al. (2004). "Bubble Formation and Transport During Directional Solidification in Microgravity: Model Experiments on the Space Station." 42nd AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting and Exhibit
Flow Visualization experiments on the controlled melting and solidification of succinonitrile were conducted in the glovebox facility of the International Space Station (ISS). The experimental samples were prepared on ground by filling glass tubes, 1 cm ID and approximately 30 cm in length, with pure succinonitrile (SCN) under 450 millibar of nitrogen. Porosity in the samples arose from natural shrinkage, and in some cases by direct insertion of nitrogen bubbles, during solidification of the liquid SCN. The samples were processed in the Pore Formation and Mobility Investigation (PFMI) apparatus that is placed in the glovebox facility (GBX) aboard the ISS. Experimental processing parameters of temperature gradient and translation speed, as well as camera settings, were remotely monitored and manipulated from the ground Telescience Center (TSC) at the Marshall Space Flight Center. During the experiments, the sample is first subjected to a unidirectional melt back, generally at 10 microns per second, with a constant temperature gradient ahead of the melting interface. The temperatures in the sample are monitored by six in situ thermocouples. Real time visualization of the controlled directional melt back shows bubbles of different sizes initiating at the melt interface and, upon dislodging from the melting solid, migrating at different speeds into the temperature field ahead of them, before coming to rest. The thermocapillary flow field set up in the melt, ahead of the interface, is dramatic in the context of the large bubbles, and plays a major role in dislodging the bubble. A preliminary analysis of the observed bubble formation and mobility during melt back and its implication to future microgravity experiments is presented and discussed.
DOI: doi:10.2514/6.2004-627 10.2514/6.2004-627