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Propellant Management Devices (PMDs)

Many power systems used in spacecraft operate on liquid fuel which is stored in onboard fuel tanks. In order to function properly, these systems must be provided with a reliable supply of vapor-free fuel. Designing fuel acquisition systems which operate in a microgravity environment is very challenging since surface tension tends to control the motion and location of the fuel, making it difficult to guarantee it will be at the tank outlet when needed. Propellent management devices (PMDs) can be designed to ensure that vapor-free fuel is delivered to the power systems consistently.

FLOW-3D enables designers of spacecraft to simulate real-world orbit maneuvers and design PMDs with a high degree of confidence. FLOW-3D provides users with well-validated physical models of surface tension and wall adhesion, free-surface advection and non-inertial reference frames. Below are examples of PMDs simulated by FLOW-3D. Click on each image to see a full animation.

Spinning Injection


Simulation of fuel sloshing in a nutating 5-tank
configuration at mid-range spin rate. Results
post-processed by Fieldview.
Simulation courtesy of PMD Technology.

Orbital


Simulation of fuel sloshing in a lateral burn environment;
4x real time. Results post-processed by Fieldview.
Simulation courtesy of PMD Technology.

Horizontal Transport


Fuel impact on a PMD in a proton rail subject to a
longitudinal vibration in real time. Results post-processed
by Fieldview. Simulation courtesy of PMD Technology.

Bubble Migration


Vapor bubble migration in a baffled tank subject to a
short engine firing; 5x real time. Results post-processed
by Fieldview. Simulation courtesy of PMD Technology.