"Acoustical Separation of Immiscible Fluids
in Reduced Gravity"

TEAM MEMBERS: Carl Carruthers, Sophomore, Molecular Biology
Anthony DiGirolamo, Sophomore, Marine Biology
Jon Faranda, Sophomore, Astronomy
Ken Hillier, Sophomore, Ocean Engineering
Rani Dadlani, Freshman, Environmental Science
TEAM COORDINATOR: Carl Carruthers <>
Anthony DiGirolamo <>
FACULTY ADVISOR: Rolando Branley

ABSTRACT: A standard technique in any organic chemistry lab is to separate two immiscible liquids by placing them into a separatory funnel and allowing gravity to do the work of separating the fluids by their different densities. While many experiments to study the demixing of immiscible fluids have been flown on Skylab and Space Shuttle missions, they have only been passive and observational. None have studied the possible methods for separating the fluids. A simple and effective way to do this will allow for improved chemistry methods and biomedical experiments to be performed in microgravity.

This experiment seeks to demonstrate a possibly new method of separation in a microgravity environment by using an acoustical resonance chamber. Various fluids of different densities and polarities will be emulsified in clear plastic cylinders and placed near a small speaker. The speaker will then provide a sonic force through the chamber and allow the separation of the mixture by its different densities. The liquid with the higher density will move slower and the fluid with the lower density will move faster. This should allow enough of each fluid to nucleate and for the fluid's van der Waals interactions to take over. Various frequencies and amplifications will be employed to find which will work best to separate each emulsified solution. If no possible separation occurs, data from the interaction and movement of the fluids can still be valuable to build and perform improved experiments.

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Last Modified: Fri July 23, 1999