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Brooks Quantim Coriolis mass flow technology, previously tested by NASA, has been selected for use on IV fluid production in a spacecraft, because of its accuracy at low flow ranges

Transporting medical fluids into space is expensive and challenging.

NASA Johnson Space Center knew there had to be a way to manufacture medical fluids in space to solve transportation problems and to make spacecraft more self-sufficient.

It called on the microgravity science expertise and spaceflight hardware development know-how of NASA Glenn Research Center and ZIN Technologies.

Most vacuum-coating systems employ a mass flow controller to control the flow of gas into the process chamber.

This gas forms a plasma or promotes a surface reaction with the coating material.

ZIN Technologies engaged Brooks Instrument to help solve this challenge.

V-F Controls, the Brooks Instrument sales representative, recommended the Quantim Coriolis mass flow controller.

This device is ideal for measuring the water flow through a purification system to a standard IV bag prefilled with salt crystals and a magnetic lab stirrer.

Dan Brown, from ZIN Technologies, said: ‘We chose the Brooks Quantim because of its accuracy at the low flow range the application requires.

‘Plus, the Coriolis mass flow technology was previously tested by NASA and had already been shown to work in reduced gravity.’ This application needed to work in zero gravity and spaceflight electronics also typically must pass a rigorous 6.8G RMS workmanship vibration test.

The standard Quantim series proved to be rugged enough for the vibration levels and the long trip to the space station.

An initial prototype of the medical-fluid generation system called IVGEN (Intravenous Fluid Generation) is currently being installed in a laboratory glove-box on the station.

The prototype consists of an accumulator for pumping potable water, a filter unit with the Quantim installed, a data collection and control unit, a mixing module and an IV bag with salt crystals.

In operation, potable water is transferred into a bladder inside the accumulator.

Nitrogen is pumped into the accumulator, forcing the water through the Quantim, then through a series of filters and into the IV bag.

The flow rates range from 15-25ml/min.

The results from the first test conducted on the station will be returned to Earth and tested for proper filtering and mixing with the salt crystals.

Once IVGEN has proved to be successful, the system will be scaled accordingly to meet the requirements of manned missions to the moon and Mars.

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