Control of flowing liquid films by electrostatic fields in space

S. George Bankoff*, Michael J Miksis, Hyo Kim

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


A novel type of lightweight space radiator has been proposed which employs internal electrostatic fields to stop coolant leaks from punctures caused by micrometeorites or space debris. Extensive calculations have indicated the feasibility of leak stoppage without film destabilization for both stationary and rotating designs. Solutions of the evolution equation for a liquid-metal film on an inclined plate, using lubrication theory for low Reynolds numbers, Karman-Pohlhausen quadratic velocity profiles for higher Reynolds numbers, and a direct numerical solution are shown. For verification an earth-based falling-film experiment on a precisely-vertical wall with controllable vacuum on either side of a small puncture is proposed. The pressure difference required to start and to stop the leak, in the presence and absence of a strong electric field, will be measured and compared with calculations. Various parameters, such as field strength, film Reynolds number, contact angle, and hole diameter will be examined. A theoretical analysis will be made of the case where the electrode is close enough to the film surface that the electric field equation and the surface dynamics equations are coupled. Preflight design calculations will be made in order to transfer the modified equipment to a flight experiment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)701-710
Number of pages10
JournalNASA Conference Publication
Issue number3338
StatePublished - Dec 1 1996
EventProceedings of the 1996 3rd Microgravity Fluid Physics Conference - Cleveland, OH, USA
Duration: Jul 13 1996Jul 15 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering


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