The Cambridge Graphene Centre has begun a programme to test the viability of graphene for space applications.
Space is the new frontier for the Graphene Flagship. This initial experiment will test the viability of graphene-enabled devices for space applications.Professor Andrea Ferrari, Director of the Cambridge Graphene Centre
Graphene will be tested in zero-gravity conditions using six parabolic flights to determine its potential in space applications, by applying it in novel loop-heat pipes to improve the thermal management of satellites and spacecrafts without the need of moving parts.
The experiment is a collaboration between the Cambridge Graphene Centre and Graphene Flagship partners at the Microgravity Research Centre, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium, and Leonardo in Italy – a global leader in aerospace, producing a variety of components and systems for space applications.
The wick of the loop heat pipe, made of a porous metal, will be enhanced with different types of graphene-based coatings to improve the efficiency. During each three-hour flight, the specially modified Novespace plane will make a series of 30 parabolic ascents with more than 20 seconds of weightlessness in each parabola.
Lucia Lombardi said: “I’m really excited because this will be my first zero-gravity experience. 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.”
Professor Ferrari, who is also Science and Technology Officer and Chair of the Management Panel of the Graphene Flagship, added: “Space is the new frontier for the Graphene Flagship. This initial experiment will test the viability of graphene-enabled devices for space applications. The combined strengths of the Graphene Flagship partners and ESA give a strong basis to reach a high technology readiness level.”
This article has been edited from the Cambridge Graphene Centre website.