Aug 8, 2017: Graphene Flagship, Europe’s largest research initiative, that aims to commercialise graphene research, will do two experiments to test if graphene can be beneficial for space applications.
The first experiment will try to find out if graphene-based coatings can improve efficiency in loop heat pipes that are found in satellite cooling systems. The second experiment will test how graphene can be used as a material for space sails.
According to Professor Jari Kinaret, Director of the Graphene Flagship, the loop heat pipe project targets a specific application, and the light sail project is linked to basic research and builds upon the unique combination of properties that only graphene can offer.
Wick is a large component of loop heat pipe in satellites, which is constructed from porous metal. The experiment will test a number of wicks coated with different types of graphene-related materials to improve the heat pipes’ efficiency. The coated wicks will be tested in a low-gravity parabolic flight. The projects aim to use graphene to improve the thermal conductivity and the capillary pressure by growing a sponge in the pores of the wicks.
The experiment for space sails will be done by a group of students, who will use microgravity conditions in the ZARM Drop Tower based in Germany, to carry out their research. The researchers will shine laser light on suspended graphene-membranes to see how much thrust can be generated.