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Graphene Flagship Tests Graphene-based Coatings for Space Applications

Published on 2017-07-12. Author : SpecialChem

Researchers and students in the Graphene Flagship are preparing for two exciting experiments in collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA) to test the viability of graphene for space applications.

Testing Viability of Graphene for Space Applications

Both experiments will launch between 6-17th November 2017, testing graphene in zero-gravity conditions to determine its potential in space applications including light propulsion and thermal management.

Zero Gravity Graphene
Graphene Flagship Tests Graphene-based Coatings for Space Applications

Satellite Heat Pipes

In one of the experiment, they are investigating how graphene can improve efficiency in heat transfer in loop heat pipes – cooling systems used extensively in satellites and aerospace instruments.

A significant part of the loop heat pipe is the wick, typically made of porous metal. In this experiment, the wicks will be coated with different types of graphene-related materials to improve the efficiency of the heat pipe.

The coated wicks will be tested in a low-gravity parabolic flight operated by ESA in partnership with Novespace, France. During each 3-hour flight, the specially modified plane will make a series of 30 parabolic ascents with around 25 seconds of weightlessness in each parabola.

Graphene Flagship researchers Vanja Mišković and Fabio Iermano, both working at the Microgravity Research Centre, and Lucia Lombardi and Yarjan Samad, both at the Cambridge Graphene Centre are involved in the experiment.

I’m really excited because this will be my first zero gravity experience,” said Lombardi. “The idea is to use graphene to improve the thermal conductivity and the capillary pressure by growing a sponge in the pores of the wicks,” she added.

Testing Different Kinds of Coatings

We want to test different kinds of coatings since the graphene and graphene oxide have different properties, but we are hoping to achieve good results with both of the coatings,” added Mišković. “I’m very excited, I know that not a lot of people get this opportunity.

From Flagship to Spaceship

Jari Kinaret (Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden), Director of the Graphene Flagship, said “These two projects exemplify the two-fold character of the Graphene Flagship: the loop heat pipe project is targeting a specific application, while the light sail project is firmly linked to basic research and builds upon the unique combination of properties that only graphene can offer.

I am particularly proud of the fact that one of these projects was initiated by students working on an area completely disconnected from space applications: this demonstrates the creativity of the next generation of researchers, and shows the sometimes surprising links between different parts of our flagship - or maybe I should say spaceship?

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Source: Graphene Flagship
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