Whirlpool Corporation is proud to announce it is joining a team of engineers from Purdue University and compressor manufacturer Air Squared to once again pioneer another innovative appliance to be used in space. The latest project is a specialised refrigerator designed to operate in zero gravity for future space missions, including a possible Mars mission.
“Air Squared approached Whirlpool Corporation to be a Phase II-E investor on an oil-free refrigerator for flight testing. Air Squared has been developing oil-free compressors for 30 years, which is a necessary part of the design due to the weightless conditions that the refrigerator would experience in outer space,” said Alberto Gomes, who headed up a team of engineers from Whirlpool Corporation on the project.
The most recent phase involved testing the refrigerator prototype in zero gravity. This was done by sending a group of engineers and the fridge for a series of flights on an aircraft operated by Zero Gravity Corporation in Fort Lauderdale, Florida that simulates the weightlessness of outer space by making multiple parabolic manoeuvres. Testing on the refrigerator was done during the flight by teams from Air Squared, Purdue, and Whirlpool Corporation in early May. Data from these flights will be used to make improvements to the microwave-sized refrigerator prototype.
The global team of engineers from multiple regions was able to successfully tackle the project that could easily have taken a year and complete it in just a few months. “We were able to execute this project very fast because we all worked together really well already,” said Naik, “and we were able to use the learnings that we had gained from some of those other projects.”
Working for an appliance manufacturer, these engineers could have never dreamed they would be collaborating on a project for NASA. “When my manager told me we would be working on this project, I was very excited,” said fellow Whirlpool team member Sanjesh Pathak. “There were so many different things we had to think about—not only how to make it work in zero gravity, but how do we handle liquid and air flow, how do we handle defrosting, and what are the complexities associated with such small space constraints?”
All three principal partners had key roles in the project. “Air Squared brought the components, Purdue did a deep dive into the physics of space flight, and we provided our expertise in refrigeration,” said Gomes. “It was a very collaborative process.”
The next stage for the project could include sending the refrigerator to the International Space Station for further testing.
For more information on the project, please visit the Whirlpool Corporation website: https://whirlpoolcorp.com/aiming-for-the-stars/
- Whirlpool Corporation has joined a team of engineers to pioneer a specialised refrigerator to be used in space
About Whirlpool Corporation
Whirlpool Corporation (NYSE: WHR) is committed to being the best global kitchen and laundry company, in constant pursuit of improving life at home. In an increasingly digital world, the company is driving purposeful innovation to meet the evolving needs of consumers through its iconic brand portfolio, including Whirlpool, KitchenAid, Maytag, Consul, Brastemp, Amana, Bauknecht, JennAir, Indesit and Yummly. In 2020, the company reported approximately $19 billion in annual sales, 78,000 employees and 57 manufacturing and technology research centers. Additional information about the company can be found at WhirlpoolCorp.com.
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