A real breakthrough in space industry made by Russian scientists — they developed a draft device for washing clothes on the International space station. In the future it will help to save on the delivery to orbit of hundreds of kilograms of clean linen from the Ground and reduce the amount of space debris, which among other things is filled and bags of dirty clothes of astronauts.
As told “MK” employee of the NTP “Deka”, candidate of technical Sciences Vladimir Kozlov, at the present time, when the astronauts just throw dirty clothes over the side (pants go to waste every four days, more underwear — seven, etc.) to the station from Earth for a crew of three people have each year to deliver nearly 900 kg of new clothes. Despite the fact that the delivery of each kilogram to the ISS costs $25 thousand, Laundry in space could significantly save money. The initiator of the idea was a colleague of Kozlov Evgeny Ryabkin. The challenge before the scientists was a difficult — I had to come up with a washing method, which would not have taken up valuable space in the water and would not spend a lot of electricity. Everything else, they needed to make the device reliable and safe to operate in zero gravity.
Scientists decided to use for washing instead of water carbon dioxide, which is formed at the station as a result of life of astronauts. It at the temperature +31- +36 Celsius and a pressure of 74 atmospheres suggested in the so-called as supercritical fluid (secondary state of matter between gas and liquid). Enough to run this fluid in a sealed chamber tightly Packed with linen, heat, withstand 3-4 hours to dissolve all the fat and then rinse. Rinse uses the same carbon dioxide fluid that in the first stage. As a result of the camera, the astronaut could extract a clean and dry linen for re-use.
It was solved by the inventors of the problem with the space saving in the living compartment of the station. Their car was a total volume of two liters and fit into it about 3 kg of dirty Laundry, because engineers have found a way to shrink linen.
Scientists are ready to conduct an experiment and together with physicians to evaluate the degree of cleaning of linen space in the Laundry room, but order from RSC “Energia”, which they expected, not yet received. But for long-duration missions to the moon or to Mars, which in future intend to carry out rocket and space Corporation, the crew of six will need about 3 tons of towels and linen.
However, the invention can also be implemented on the Ground. The application of the machines in the network of laundries (dry cleaners) will eliminate the use of water and surfactants used in traditional washing machines, significantly reducing the cost of electricity for washing and environmental pollution.