Introduction to Microgravity
Tutorial on Microgravity Research

Tutorial on Microgravity Research

page 2: Comparison Photograph's Showing Materials Produced in Microgravity vs. Materials Produced in Earth Gravity

Machine tools used for the manufacture of metal products generate billions of dollars in revenues annually. Cutting tool tips in these machine tools often break due to defects in their composition. Performing this process in microgravity will reduce defects and

increase performance of the materials and the resulting products. This offers a tremendous opportunity for the US tool industry to offer better quality products, improve its competiveness and grab a larger global market share. Annual sales of metal cutting tools in the US is over $3.5 billion. (Source: US Industry & Trade Outlook 1999.)

Microgravity processing produces crystals o larger sizes and fewer structural defects than those grown on Earth. This allows more reliable structrual determination of the crystal. The manufacture of zeolites in

microgravity would result in better zeolite crystals, which could be used to improve performance and reduce pollution of petroleum refineries and chemical plants. Also, automobile fuel efficiency could be increased in addition to reducing pollution. (Note. These zeolite comparision photographs are NOT at the same magnification. The microgravity produced zeolite crystals are proportionally even larger than they appear in the photographs. They are 38 times larger than those produced on Earth!)

The US consumes over 19 million barrels of crude oil per day. Assuming the price per barrel is $20.00, this equates to $138 billion annually. Products and processes resulting from microgravity can reduce this huge expenditure and our dependency on foreign oil imports.

Protein Crystal Isocitrate Lysase is an enzyme for fungicides. The isocitrate lysase crystals grown in microgravity are of larger sizes and fewer structural defects than crystals grown on Earth. They will lead to more powerful fungicides to treat serious crop diseases such as rice blast, and increase crop output.