For the twelfth time in 13 years, a team from West Virginia University will be participating in NASA’s Reduced Gravity Education Flight Program, scheduled for July 12-20, at Johnson Space Center in Houston.

The team is made up of students from the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources. It is one of 14 teams selected nationally and will join student teams from Purdue University, Rice University, University of Arizona, Virginia Tech and more.

WVU’s project, “Optimization of Liquid Spray Cooling in a Variable Gravity Environment,” will determine whether or not the onset of microgravity conditions causes a significant change in the heat removal performance of spray cooling.

“On earth, spray cooling has been shown to produce the largest amount of heat removal, or cooling, per unit of surface area of just about any other cooling method,” explained John Kuhlman, team advisor and professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering. “It also results in a relatively uniform surface temperature of the object to be cooled. This ability makes spray cooling attractive for cooling small, high-power electrical components.”

The experiment will involve spraying a hot surface with a fine shower of water droplets, and observing the cooling behavior.

“Results from running the experiment in a microgravity environment will be compared with those obtained from ground experiments to determine the role gravity plays in a spray cooling situation,” said team member Stephen Itschner, a senior from Huntington, Md., majoring in electrical engineering and biometric systems.

While the team hopes its research will determine whether or not the onset of microgravity conditions cause a significant change in the heat removal performances of spray cooling, previous studies have produced conflicting results. If their research proves true, the team believes spray cooling will be a candidate for the cooling of high-power electronics aboard future spacecraft.

Flight Week provides students with the opportunity to get hands-on experience to conduct their research. The students will experience weightlessness when they test their experiment onboard the “Weightless Wonder.” The aircraft flies extreme parabolic maneuvers over the Gulf of Mexico, simulating hyper-gravity and microgravity from two times the force on earth to what someone would feel walking on the moon and floating in space.

Joining Itschner on the team are senior mechanical and aerospace engineering majors Spencer Elyard (Clarksburg, W.Va.), Evan Ford (Follansbee, W.Va.), Dustin Frohnapfel (Follansbee, W.Va.) and Joseph West (Wheeling, W.Va.); juniors Jacob Cordonier (Parkersburg, W.Va.), who majors in mechanical engineering, Michael Powell (Hagerstown, Md.) and Dinie Rosli (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), mechanical and aerospace engineering, and Nicholas Underwood (Beckley, W.Va.), aerospace engineering; and sophomores Samantha Dolin (Madison, W.Va.), mechanical engineering, and Steven Kosko (Poland, Ohio), mechanical and aerospace engineering.



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CONTACT: Mary C. Dillon