ERJ staff report (DS)
Columbus, Ohio - An Akron researcher is designing computer prediction models for gas permeation through elastomers. The aim is to test potential new docking seals that will better preserve breathable cabin air for astronauts living aboard the International Space Station and other NASA spacecraft.
Garafolo recently analysed a two-piece silicone elastomer seal, using the IBM 1350 Glenn computer cluster at the Ohio Supercomputer Centre (OSC). His model simulated air leakage through the elastomer, taking into account the effects of gas compressibility and variable permeability.
To establish an analytical understanding of space seal leakage and construct their computational prediction tool, Garafolo and his colleagues modeled how air leaked into and through the elastomer seal, while taking into account the effects of gas compressibility and the variability of permeation on air pressure. The research team's first evaluations showed significant correlations between the experimental values and the computer modeled results.
For pressure differentials near operating conditions, the leak rates determined by the model accurately reflected the experimental results, within the bounds of uncertainty. For pressure differentials exceeding normal operating conditions, the differences between the experimental results and computational numbers were not quite as close, as expected. The larger differences in the leak rates, however, were attributed to extrapolation errors of the model parameters.
Garafolo and colleague Christopher Daniels, Ph.D., UA associate research professor in the College of Engineering, authored the paper, â€œAn Evaluation of the Compressible Permeation Approach for Elastomeric Space Seals.â€ It recently was published in the proceedings of the 50th Aerospace Sciences Meeting of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, held in Nashville, Tenn., in January. The study was based upon work supported by NASA and through an allocation of computing time from OSC.
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Press release from Ohio Supercomputer Centre