Hedgefog Research Inc. (HFR) proposes to develop new, thin-film, Bendable Electrodynamic Dust Shields (BEDS) that allow for continuous dynamic bending over compound curvatures such as the joint regions of a spacesuit, e.g., ankles, knees, elbows, etc. The BEDS technology is based on a combination of customized rigid and bendable plastic sheet forms with thin film electrode arrays fabricated from commercial flexible copper circuit. The two-dimensional flat plastic sheets incorporate flexible ‘living’ hinges that can be bent in either a positive or negative radius to conform to curved surfaces. Using nylon or polypropylene plastic material and rapid prototyping techniques such as selective laser sintering (SLS), arbitrary plastic structures can be designed and fabricated that allow living hinges to bend and flex over 100,000’s of bending cycles. This creates a highly suitable support material for thin film electrode arrays that use high strength electric fields to remove dust from the surface. In Phase I, HFR will fabricate, assemble, and demonstrate the feasibility of the BEDS technology using high voltage waveforms and simulated regolith dust. We will also investigate high voltage safety techniques, electro-magnetic interference reduction, and adaptive technologies to switch on the active dust cleaning only when necessary. The active BEDS arrays will be combined with passive dust mitigation strategies for experimentation with new concepts of operation.
The initial application is to protect equipment from abrasive lunar dust. Airborne dust may be inhaled and cause lung damage. Therefore, secondary applications may include grids to disperse lunar dust from pathways, habitats, equipment, and vehicles. Developing a flexible BEDS material will allow for broader applications in helmet visors, flexible wrap-around electrode ‘tape’, integration onto the surface of space suits, protective skin for vehicle body, the vehicle seats (to prevent wear on astronauts’ suits), zip-lock plastic bags etc.
The Army can use BEDS to deflect dust from vehicle windshields, pitched tents, and other pieces of equipment and personnel. EPA applications cover charged particle pollution filtering systems for residential, commercial, industrial and transportation use. The DHS and the USPS may see applications in screening mail contents for powders. Solar farms require dust mitigation technologies.