Ammonia: Keeping Space Flight Cool

    by Mike Boggs:

    CEO Emeritus of Boggs Gases and presently volunteer director of Special Projects


 The gases used in the Space Shuttle Program are for things the general public does not associate with everyday use. Some of the gases are no longer used in the United States because of EPA regulations which have become so strict.

 For example Ammonia is no longer used in the United States as a Refrigerant Gas but it is the Gas used as the Refrigerant Gas for the Air Conditioning System on the International Space Station. The image above shows an ammonia tank being installed on the space station a year ago. On the recent flight of Endeavour, spacewalkers connected and opened ammonia coolant lines to the newly installed Tranquility node.

 In space there is no reason to be concerned with a leak causing the noxious order that is associated with Ammonia here on Earth where we have an Atmosphere.

 Ammonia plays other roles in the Space Shuttle Program. When the Space Shuttle returns to Earth it smells very noxious. It is cooled by Ammonia. When it is returning through the Atmosphere Ammonia is sprayed on the outside to cool the protective tile. When it first lands the smell of Ammonia is quite prevalent.

 Ammonia is not only a good refrigerant and has excellent cooling capabilities it is a inexpensive product. It used to be used extensively in the refrigeration industry but in recent times the EPA regulations have become so strict that Ammonia is no longer used much in the United States.



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