Title: Flame Behavior of a MEMS-GC Detector
As humans travel beyond Earth orbit, there will be a need very light, compact and robust instruments for monitoring the crew cabin environment. For the past decade, our group at JPL has been producing miniature gas- and liquid-based sensors for environmental monitoring for including a volatile organic compound (VOC) monitor for the International Space Station. Our partner, Cbana Labs, has developed a series of VOC detectors based on micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) technology. With Cbana, we have been awarded NASA funds to work on sensors for both robotic (PIDD program) and human (Advanced Environmental Sensors) exploration applications. One of Cbana's sensors is a MEMS-based gas chromatograph that uses a micro flame ionization detector (FID) that generates and uses hydrogen via electrolysis. From decades of work on both the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station, it is known that flames, even micro-flames, behave quite differently in microgravity. Therefore, we would like to test the performance of one of the Cbana FID devices in microgravity and compare it to its performance in the lab. The will give us valuable insight into whether or not the current design would still be applicable to spaceflight or if a subtle re-design is needed.
Richard D. Kidd