NTRS - NASA Technical Reports Server

Back to Results
Determining the Thermal Properties of Space LubricantsMany mechanisms used in spacecrafts, such as satellites or the space shuttle, employ ball bearings or gears that need to be lubricated. Normally this is not a problem, but in outer space the regular lubricants that are used on Earth will not function properly. Regular lubricants will quickly vaporize in the near vacuum of space. A unique liquid called a perfluoropolyalkylether (PFPE) has an extremely low vapor pressure, around l0(exp -10) torr at 20 C, and has been used in numerous satellites and is currently used in the space shuttle. Many people refer to the PFPEs as "liquid Teflon". PFPE lubricants however, have a number of problems with them. Lubricants need many soluble additives, especially boundary and anti-wear additives, in them to function properly. All the regular known boundary additives are insoluble in PFPEs and so PFPEs lubricate poorly under highly loaded conditions leading to many malfunctioning ball bearings and gears. JAXA, the Japanese Space Agency, is designing and building a centrifuge rotor to be installed in the International Space Station. The centrifuge rotor is part of a biology lab module. They have selected a PFPE lubricant to lubricate the rotor s ball bearings and NASA bearing experts feel this is not a wise choice. An assessment of the centrifuge rotor design is being conducted by NASA and part of the assessment entails knowing the physical and thermal properties of the PFPE lubricant. One important property, the thermal diffusivity, is not known. An experimental apparatus was set up in order to measure the thermal diffusivity of the PFPE. The apparatus consists of a constant temperature heat source, cylindrical Pyrex glassware, a thermal couple and digital thermometer. The apparatus was tested and calibrated using water since the thermal diffusivity of water is known.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Maldonado, Christina M. (Toledo Univ. OH, United States)
Date Acquired
August 23, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2004
Publication Information
Publication: Research Symposium II
Subject Category
Metals and Metallic Materials
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

Related Records

IDRelationTitle20050186580Analytic PrimaryResearch Symposium II