Mott Making Life in Space More Comfortable
Mott’s Porous Cup Suppresses Excessive Gas Flow Noise
When astronauts leave to explore space, they have to have living chambers that regularly provide them with oxygen. Failing to supply enough oxygen to the crew can cause significant brain damage and even death if the oxygen levels drop low enough for too long. Irreparable brain damage can occur in as little as five minutes in a low-oxygen environment, so the spacecraft must maintain appropriate oxygen levels to sustain the entire crew. This is achieved through a steady flow of oxygen to their chambers. This oxygen supply is provided by fuel cells that use Zirconium and Niobium porous sheets as substrates for catalysts, then spread through flowing gas.
Sounds are measured in decibels (dB); the louder the sound, the higher the decibels. The Environmental Protection Agency found that constant indoor sounds above 45 dB can cause activity interference and annoyance, which is an issue for scientists attempting to carry out their mission adequately. 45 dB equates to average room sounds or an operating refrigerator. Constant, low-level sound exposure can also cause hearing damage. Sounds exceeding 70 dBs during a continuous 24-hour period can cause measurable hearing loss over a long period of time. Sounds that register at 70 dBs include landscaping equipment (from inside a building), average office noise, or a dishwasher.
With gases flowing inside such a small space, it can get quite loud. Astronauts stay in space for months, if not years at a time and are confined to these small chambers, so there is no way to escape from the noise. The flow of oxygen, and resulting noise, must be continuous to ensure the crew is supplied with fresh oxygen for healthy life sustainment. This constant noise, especially over the months or years of a mission, can cause irritation and annoyance at best and hearing loss at worst.