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A Chemical Engineering Application Has Potential in Space


Narrator:        This is Science Today. A team of researchers at the University of California, Riverside are working to develop an ultra-thin molecular sieving membrane featuring pores that are 100 thousand times narrower than the diameter of a hair. Chemical engineer Yushan Yan, says there are many applications for this type of membrane - including use on the space station.

Yan:    There, you essentially need an air conditioning system and in space stations, just like us in our room, when you have an air conditioning system, the key component is a condenser. So, the moisture-laden air coming in, you remove the heat, the water will condense into beads. But when you do this in space station, it doesn't work. There's no gravity. So, our invention has been, if you put an extremely hydrophilic coating on the surface of the heat exchanger, you can actually change the condensation mode and you can use a vacuum to sip the water out of the condenser. So, you can achieve technically, gravity-independent water separation in the space station.

Narrator:        For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.