Flow Chemistry in Space–a Unique Opportunity to Perform Extraterrestrial Research

Read the full paper on akjournals.com

Authors: Gellért Sipos 1 Tamás Bihari 2 Dorottya Milánkovich 2 , and Ferenc Darvas 1 , 3

ThalesNano Inc., Graphisoft Park, Záhony u. 7, H-1031 Budapest, Hungary 

Innostudio Inc., Graphisoft Park, Záhony u. 7, H-1031 Budapest, Hungary 

Florida International University, 11200 SW 8th St, Miami, FL 33199, USA

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1556/1846.2017.00033

Page Count: 151–156

Publication Date: 01 Sep 2017

Online Publication Date: Sep 2017Article Category: Research Article

Abstract

For successful deep space exploration, a vast amount of chemistry-related challenges has to be overcome. In the last two decades, flow chemistry has matured enough to take the lead in performing chemical research in space. This perspective article summarizes the state of the art of space chemistry, analyzes the suitability of flow chemistry in extraterrestrial environment, and discusses some of the challenges and opportunities in space chemistry ranging from establishing an end-to-end microfactory to asteroid mining.

1. Introduction

There is an increasing public and private interest in deep-space explorations. However, there are many challenges associated with long-duration space flights mostly due to the limited resources available during these journeys. For example, the limited storage space means a serious restriction and the possibility of refilling stocks through space launches is expensive and time-consuming. Astronauts suffer from different health problems and illnesses: osteopenia which has been observed during the Project Gemini, sleep disturbances [1], or space motion sickness, just to mention a few [2]. In addition, the short shelf life (typically less than 1 year) of pharmaceuticals in space adds another layer of complexity to the problems [3]. The treatment of these conditions often requires chemical and medical solutions.

Chemistry has had an undeniable role making us capable to reach space. The vast amount of research and development, from the plastic pieces of satellites to high energy rocket propellants, all involved intensive chemical research. However, to date, chemistry has had more of a supporting role than being the discipline of investigation [4]. Nevertheless, some chemical research has been done in space and also in microgravity environment (e.g., synthesis of polymers) [5]. One might rightfully ponder: Why have we done such a limited amount of chemical research in space? Do we need to do chemical research in space at all?

The way how chemical reactions are performed resembles the conditions two hundred years ago, i.e., chemists still use round bottom flasks and stirrers most of the time [6]. Adaptation of the conventional experimental methodology in chemistry to space is far from straightforward. The microgravity (μg) environment affects convection and fluid dynamics, which results in an environment where conventional batch chemistry does not seem evident. In this perspective, we show why flow chemistry shall be the method of choice for space chemistry research.

The content of this perspective can be summarized in the following points: first, we will give a brief overview on the historical and present approaches of space chemistry. In this section, we separately discuss scientific, technological, and industrial results. Next, we will detail why we believe that flow chemistry will have a vital role in the future of space chemistry. Finally, we will describe some intriguing challenges and opportunities. We consider challenges as cases where the problem lies in a problem space with open boundaries. For several millennia, e.g., walking on the Moon was a challenge. In contrast, opportunities are considered as finding solutions in a closed problem space (with rapid development of natural sciences and engineering, walking on the Moon became an opportunity in the early 1960s). While opportunities are constrained by technical problems, challenges are focusing on concepts in a much wider aspect.

Read the full paper on akjournals.com

Upcoming Events

Drug Discovery in Space  Webinar Series 2021-2022

Drug Discovery in Space
Webinar Series 2021-2022

It is our pleasure to announce that Japan Manned Space Systems Corporation and InnoStudio are organizing the first ever webinar series dedicated to pharmaceutical research and drug discovery in space. The three-part webinar series, with both scientific and...

FROST8 – Hybrid Conference 24-26 November 2021 Budapest, Hungary

FROST8 – Hybrid Conference
24-26 November 2021
Budapest, Hungary

InnoStudio, is a proud exhibitor of FROST8, the next event of  the ”Frontiers in Organic Synthesis Technology” conference series organized by the Flow Chemistry Society.The conference will take place on November 24-26 in Budapest, Hungary, where InnoStudio will...

Social Media

Follow our daily updated Social Media pages for the latest news, event,curiosities and fun.

Latest News & Events

Drug Discovery in Space  Webinar Series 2021-2022

Drug Discovery in Space
Webinar Series 2021-2022

It is our pleasure to announce that Japan Manned Space Systems Corporation and InnoStudio are organizing the first ever webinar series dedicated to pharmaceutical research and drug discovery in space. The three-part webinar series, with both scientific and...

FROST8 – Hybrid Conference 24-26 November 2021 Budapest, Hungary

FROST8 – Hybrid Conference
24-26 November 2021
Budapest, Hungary

InnoStudio, is a proud exhibitor of FROST8, the next event of  the ”Frontiers in Organic Synthesis Technology” conference series organized by the Flow Chemistry Society.The conference will take place on November 24-26 in Budapest, Hungary, where InnoStudio will...

Hungarian Space Research Forum 2021

Hungarian Space Research Forum 2021

Organized by the Hungarian Astronautical Society, the Centre for Energy Research and the Institute of Earth Physics and Space Science at the Eötvös Loránd Research Network, the Hungarian Space Research Forum will be held as a hybrid event between September 29 –...

Latest Articles

Hungarians develop more effective COVID drugs in space

Hungarians develop more effective COVID drugs in space

Published May 7, 2021 on 24.hu In the last few months, in addition to vaccine developments against the coronavirus, little has been heard of regarding what efforts have been made to develop new medicines for the treatment of already covid infected patients. Regarding...

InnoStudio cited in the lead space journal by Roscosmos

InnoStudio cited in the lead space journal by Roscosmos

The recent and successful study of InnoStudio and CycloLab for COVID-19 drug research in space has been gaining attention and receiving positive feedback worldwide. The Roscosmos State Corporation for Space Activities found our idea and experiment valuable enough to...

COVID-19 drug research and bio-mining launching to Space Station

COVID-19 drug research and bio-mining launching to Space Station

For the past 20 years, astronauts have been performing experiments on the International Space Station. Science in low Earth orbit is not only hugely important in preparation for continued space exploration, the research also benefits life on Earth. We’ve seen...