In Phase I we are planning to demonstrate the ability of the proposed attachment radically improve the performance of a vacuum cleaner used on a spacecraft/space station in collecting dust and particulate matter from various surfaces and objects. The original technology was developed by the project PI for transportation security applications to collect explosives trace, including tiny ng-mass particles of explosives from the surface of checked-in baggage and carry-on items. The proposed Dust Removing Attachment generates a pulsed air flow, dislodging particles from a 2-6” (5-15cm) distance from the cleaned surface while generating a strong vortex airflow, which delivers the detached particles to the entrance port of the Vacuum Dust Collection (VDC) system. To utilize this technology for space programs applications, the original TSA application-oriented design needs to be scaled down and optimized. After fabrication and assembly, the process parameters must be adjusted, and the breadboard performance should be verified with representative dust/particles and surfaces.
Following successful breadboard design and performance demonstration, we plan to develop a Vortex Dust Remover module as a replacement attachment for a commercial vacuum cleaner currently deployed on a spacecraft/station in conjunction with an equipment manufacturer. In addition to being used as an attachment to a manual VDC system, the dust removal nozzle can be integrated with the VDC system into a fully self-contained autonomous dust collector capable of cleaning the surfaces inside of a spacecraft 24/7 without an astronaut involvement.
The proposed device is very different from other commercially available VDC systems in its ability to remove and collect dust and particulate matter from surfaces that are not accessible to direct contact with the vacuum cleaner nozzle by moving airborne dust directly to the nozzle of the vacuum cleaner. It will have great application in aerosol sample collection and medical facility cleaning.