A study of the effects of cyclic (on-off) heat fluxes on canned food heating times during skylab space flights



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A review of solutions for heat conduction with heat flux boundary conditions is presented for cylindrical geometries. A solution is selected that is sufficiently general to be applied to a food heating problem associated with the Skylab space flights which are to be conducted by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The problem is to compute the total time reguired to heat food cans to a desirable temperature for consumption without having the temperature, at any point in the system, becoming higher than the boiling temperature of water for the given cabin environment. This problem is solved, by using a piece-wise, analytical solution scheme programmed on the digital computer. The results of the analysis for a typical data case are presented graphically and in tabular form. In particular the effect of q[subscript o],[thermal diffusivity], and R[subscript o] as parameters on a graph of T versus heating time, a typical family of dimensionless temperature profiles, and a table (Table 6.2) demonstrating the range of expected heating times predicted for Skylab are presented as primary analytical results. The conclusions based on the results are stated and the possibility of system improvement is discussed.