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Fluid dynamics, Microfluidics, Capillarity, Reduced gravity environments, Contact angle


In this work, we analyze liquid drains from containers in effective zero-g conditions aboard the International Space Station (ISS). The efficient draining of capillary fluids from conduits, containers, and media is critical in particular to high-value liquid samples such as minuscule biofluidics processing on earth and enormous cryogenic fuels management aboard spacecraft. The amount and rate of liquid drained can be of key concern. In the absence of strong gravitational effects, system geometry, and liquid wetting dominate capillary fluidic behavior. During the years 2010–2015, NASA conducted a series of handheld experiments aboard the ISS to observe “large” length scale capillary fluidic phenomena in a variety of irregular containers with interior corners. In this work, we focus on particular single exit port draining flows from such containers and digitize hours of archived NASA video records to quantify transient interface profiles and volumetric flow rates. These data are immediately useful for theoretical and numerical model benchmarks. We demonstrate this by making comparisons to lubrication models for slender flows in simplified geometries which show variable agreement with the data, in part validating certain geometry-dependent dynamical interface curvature boundary conditions while invalidating others. We further compare the data for the draining of complex vane networks and identify the limits of the current theory. All analyzed data is made available to the public as MATLAB files, as detailed within.


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