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Air Squared News

NASA Funds Parabolic Flight to Qualify Space Refrigerator

Air Squared will test a vapor-compression refrigeration system onboard a Zero Gravity Corporation parabolic flight to simulate operation in space.

Space Refrigerator Loading for Parabolic Flight
Space Refrigerator Loading for Parabolic Flight

With SBIR Phase II-Extended funding from NASA, Air Squared will continue developing a groundbreaking zero-gravity vapor-compression refrigeration system. A collaboration with Purdue University,Whirlpool Corporation, Johnson Space Center, and the Armstrong Flight Research Center, the award will allow Air Squared to complete the development of an oil-free scroll compressor and test the novel system in microgravity. Informally referred to as the “Space Refrigerator,” the oil-free refrigeration system is intended to provide NASA a viable solution for long-term food storage in space.

The Space Refrigerator uses an oil-free scroll refrigeration compressor that allows for operation in microgravity and zero gravity. Air Squared will demonstrate the complete system onboard four independent parabolic flights over the Gulf of Mexico. To simulate a space environment, each flight will provide twenty instances of microgravity, with each instance lasting approximately fifteen seconds. Purdue, Whirlpool, and Air Squared have established three primary goals for Phase II-Extended effort:

  1. Improve compressor efficiency using integrated liquid cooling to the motor and fixed scroll.
  2. Verify that system operation is independent of orientation, allowing for use in zero gravity.
  3. Achieve Technology Readiness Level 7 by demonstrating the system in microgravity.

This material is based upon work supported by a Phase II-Extended SBIR award by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.