The Importance of Slosh

Slosh on the International Space Station

Student’s Research Under NASA Fellowship May Help Make Spacecraft Safer

Like coffee in a thermos on a bumpy road, liquid rocket fuel inside a tank can slosh around precariously as it lifts off from the launch pad. Fuel takes up the majority of mass on a spacecraft, so predicting, and controlling fluid slosh dynamics is critical to improving safety and performance of space missions.

Florida Tech graduate student Jedediah Storey, under the guidance of Daniel Kirk, associate dean of research in the college of engineering, recently completed a prestigious NASA research fellowship experimenting with the slosh dynamics on cryogenic liquids. Kirk says that while many experimental and numerical studies of water slosh have been conducted, experimental slosh data for cryogenic liquids is lacking. After designing a novel “floating spherical tank” test setup, Storey completed nearly 500 experiments and 40 Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) simulations of water and liquid nitrogen.

NASA can use Storey’s valuable collection of high accuracy slosh test data to validate CFD models currently used to design missions. As for the big picture, the results of the data will be used to advance safer and more efficient design of space vehicles. Marshal Space Flight Center and ATK Space Systems have also expressed interest in using Storey’s data.

The picture above, courtesy of NASA, is Kirk’s slosh experiment aboard the International Space Station.


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