Performance assessment of ultrasonic waves for bubble control in cryogenic fuel tanks
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An efficient long-term storage of cryogenic propellants is a challenge for future space exploration missions. The vapour bubbles formed as a result of boil-off in the tank walls can generate foam structures, which could be hazardous in different operations in orbit. A recently proposed approach to control the dynamics of bubbles is based on the generation of an acoustic field by means of a piezoelectric transducer. This technology needs to be validated at cryogenic temperatures in order to be applicable in space. In this perspective, different piezoelectric elements and matching layer materials have been tested at cryogenic temperatures to assess their performance at such environmental conditions. We consider the use of soft PZT piezoceramics coupled with an epoxy resin as the matching layer. Experimental data reveal that epoxy resin-based acoustic matching layers exhibit a linear increase in the transmittance of the acoustic amplitude at cryogenic conditions. The peak-to-peak amplitude increases as temperature decreases up to a factor of 1.6. This result opens the possibility of generating and transmitting acoustic waves at cryogenic temperatures, which could be used in the recently proposed technology to control the dynamics of vapour bubbles in cryogenic fuel tanks.
CitationSuñol, F. [et al.]. Performance assessment of ultrasonic waves for bubble control in cryogenic fuel tanks. "Microgravity science and technology", 27 Maig 2020, vol. 32, p. 609-613.
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