Boiling in Microgravity

This week’s edition of the ISS research blog focuses on the Boiling Experiment Facility (BXF) and the goals of unlocking the secrets of boiling in microgravity. Without gravity to provide buoyant convection, boiling in space tends to produce one giant bubble instead of the hundreds of tiny ones we’re accustomed to seeing on our stoves. According to Dr. Tara Ruttley:

TheBoiling Experiment Facility or BXF, which launched on STS-133 in February 2010, will enable scientists to perform in-depth studies of the complexities involved in bubble formation as a result of heat transfer. For instance, what roles do surface tension and evaporation play during nucleate boiling when buoyancy and convection are not in the equation? What about the variations in the properties of the heating surface? By controlling for gravity while on the International Space Station, scientists can investigate the various elements of boiling, thus potentially driving improved cooling system designs. Improved efficiency in cooling technology can lead to positive impacts on the global economy and environment; two hot topics that have much to gain from boiling in space.

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