Did you know that in microgravity you can better study the behaviour of fluids’ mixtures when a thermal field is applied?
Gravity on Earth influences the kinetics and dynamics of mixtures causing sedimentation and convection effects.
Oil and water can be mixed into an emulsion but gravity will quickly separate the two liquids, moving the less dense oil to the top and the water to the bottom of the container. This does not happen ins space making it a great environment to study phenomena that cause the separation of mixtures.
When heat is applied to a liquid mixture one component “likes” the hot temperature side more than the another – separating through a phenomenon called thermodiffusion.
Thermodiffusion has been known since long time, however a theoretical explanation of this phenomenon has not yet been widely agreed, so studying it in space is revealing more.
A number of industrial sectors can benefit from a better knowledge of the behaviours of fluids mixtures: oil and gas, cosmetic, food and pharmaceutical industries are just a few examples.
The step to space research is closer than you might think. Get involved with spaceflight research via www.esa.int/spaceflightAO. Find out about our commercial partnerships and opportunities in human and robotic exploration via www.esa.int/explorationpartners to run your research in microgravity as well.