Mass and thermal diffusivity algorithms: Reduced algorithms for mass and thermal diffusivity determinations

Academic Article


  • Mass and thermal diffusivity measurements conducted on Earth are prone to contamination by uncontrollable convective contributions to the overall transport. Previous studies of mass and thermal diffusivities conducted on spacecraft have demonstration the gain in precision, and lower absolute values, resulting from the reduced convective transport possible in a low-gravity environment. We have developed and extensively tested real-time techniques for diffusivity measurements, where several measurements may be obtained on a single sample. This is particularly advantageous for low gravity research were there is limited experiment time. The mass diffusivity methodology uses a cylindrical sample geometry. A radiotracer, initially located at one end of the host is used as the diffusant. The sample is positioned in a concentric isothermal radiation shield with collimation bores located at defined positions along its axis. The intensity of the radiation emitted through the collimators is measured versus time with solid-state detectors and associated energy discrimination electronics. For the mathematical algorithm that we use, only a single pair of collimation bores and detectors are necessary for single temperature measurements. However, by employing a second, offset, pair of collimation holes and radiation detectors, diffusivities can be determined at several temperatures per sample. For thermal diffusivity measurements a disk geometry is used. A heat pulse is applied in the center of the sample and the temperature response of the sample is measured at several locations. Thus, several values of the diffusivity are measured versus time. The exact analytic solution to a heat pulse in the disk geometry leads to a unique heated area and measurement locations. Knowledge of the starting time and duration of he heating pulse is not used in the data evaluation. Thus, this methodology represents an experimentally simpler and more robust scheme.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Banish RM; Albert LBJ; Pourpoint TL; Alexander JID; Sekerka RF
  • Start Page

  • 146
  • End Page

  • 156
  • Volume

  • 974