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RUBI, A Special Steam Engine To Be Sent To The ISS From Florida

CRS-18, the upcoming supply mission, will launch from Florida and transport a steam engine, destined for the USS. Named RUBI, this is a science experiment built and developed by Airbus, meant for the ESA. It aims to address several fundamentals regarding boiling points and processes of fluids.

Astronaut Parmitano will handle RUBI’s installation procedures in Columbus module section of ISS, which will be done during his 5-month stint in 2019. The experiment will be controlled and operated by B-USOC located in Brussels. Heat transfer and phase transition phenomena during fluid evaporation will be studied in macroscopic and microscopic dimensions. RUBI’s core consists of a fluid-filled cell, cooled and heated thermoelectrically.

This boiling process will be done on glass heater (metal-coated) utilizing a leaser. Hi-res cams will record growth and formation of vapor bubbles by taking a staggering five hundred images every second. A 3-D representation of bubble shapes along with detailed analysis of heater’s temperature distribution can be done via RUBI’s cameras, enabling determination of flux densities and evaporation conditions.

Utilizing high-voltage electrodes can systematically influence this boiling process. A convection loop, which has adjustable properties, would also contribute to this.

Due to gravity’s effect on Earth, the formation of only tiny bubbles is possible, which detach quickly from their heating surfaces, this masking physical effects. Optimization of numerical boiling process’ numerical models will be possible via these tests conducted in zero-gravity situations along with corresponding tests conducted on Earth for reference. This could allow the manufacture of better environment-friendly appliances with higher efficiency, along with industrial-grade manufacturing process-related heat exchanges.

One challenge faced by the industrial team at Airbus was for shrinking RUBI to a shoebox-like size and to weight only 34 kg, which would allow its usability in space. A similar Earth-based setup would have wardrobe dimensions and weigh around 300 kg.

Mary Wade
Mary Wade Subscriber
CONTENT WRITER At Global Industry Report

Mary Wade has studied masters in masters in air and space law and is working as a content writer. She writes about space, science, and stargazing. Formerly Mary has worked with one of the top space research institutes in the country. She writes space-related articles and news at our news portal. In leisure time, Mary likes to do doodling and believes that this improves her cognitive skills. She is intelligent with technical background knowledge.

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