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SpacePharma Microgravity Miniature Pump

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - SPuMP (SpacePharma Microgravity Miniature Pump)

Reporting period: 2017-02-01 to 2017-07-31

Lab-on-a-chip based systems have promised to be the biggest research revolution in fields ranging from medicine and biology, to chemistry and food science, and even to space. However, the promise has not delivered thus far, despite the fact that using these systems minimizes the use of costly reagents and allows for the exploration of phenomena not normally seen at the macro-scale. This lack of ubiquitous use of lab-on-chip stems from the fact that currently these systems are more of chip-in-a-lab, as this small chip using nano- and pico-liters of liquid is surround by full macroscale laboratory equipment – pumps, microscopes, etc. Through the building of the SpacePharma Microgravity Miniaturized Pump (SPuMP), we at SpacePharma seek to not only make systems truly lab-on-a-chip, but also revolution the use of lab-on-a-chip in space based research.

SPuMP is a miniaturized, non-pulsatile pump with on reservoir temperature control for use in extreme environments, such as the microgravity environment of space. Space based research is the next breakthrough in human research and technology. Research in space can benefit people on earth and can also help us understand the effects of long-term space travel. Some of the discoveries made in space based research have led to new medications and new vaccines.

SpacePharma wants SPuMP to lead the next generation of scientific discoveries in space, whether that be on the International Space Station or in a nano-satellite. SpacePharma wants SPuMP to give researchers access to new and exciting innovations and experiments, all while fitting in the tiniest foot print and using as little power as possible. SPuMP will have smooth flow and on reservoir temperature control.
In this first reporting period, we have completed a number of important deliverables and milestones. We have completed all of the promised deliverables and milestones. We have completed the System Requirements Document (D1.1) that outlines the requirements for the system including power use, size, accuracy and flow rate range. We completed the system high level design document (D1.2) and the detailed design document (D1.3). We completed the initial mechanical design of SPuMP (D2.1) and even built a very first prototype of SPuMP. We concluded a report outlining bubble elimination strategies (D4.1) and will begin testing these strategies in the next reporting period. We will also test additional strategies that we have come up with in the initial testing and uses of the first SPuMP prototype. We concluded a series of evaporation tests (D2.2) but found that they were not conclusive and will perform additional testing in the upcoming reporting period. We performed the initial thermal analysis of the system (D3.1) and are already working on a more detailed thermal analysis of the hydraulic SPuMP concept which we came up with. Hydraulic SPuMP, as detailed in the Detailed Design Document (D1.3) allows us to save additional space and dead volume by using SPuMP to actuate a series of diaphragm pumps. We also made the SPuMP website (D7.1) which we will be updating every few months. We also completed all of our milestones as expected before the end of the reporting period.

The two largest achievements of this reporting period are completing the mechanical design along with all of the design documents and having a first working prototype of SPuMP. We have already begun initial flow rate and accuracy testing of SPuMP and the results are promising that we will easily hit our target.
The current state of the art for miniaturized, space-proof pumps are pulsatile peristaltic pumps. While these pumps can be used to do basic research their inaccuracies in flow rate and dosage amounts make them ill-suited for extremely delicate biological experiments requiring extreme precision. These pumps are also generally preprogrammed to run at given intervals while hooked up to bubble traps, as the flexible tubing required for pump operation is not suitable for preventing evaporation. SPuMP looks to change the current state of the art for miniaturized, low power, space-proof pumps. SPuMP opens up a new way of thinking about experiment execution in space. SPuMP not only operates with smooth flow, a wide range of slow rates, and high precision, it is also remote controlled and offers up a new way of thinking about how to execute fluid based experiments remotely. SPuMP is an interesting problem to solve since most lab work is done manually today, and having a way to remotely control and monitor experiments could have a wider impact in the earth-based, traditional lab setting beyond microgravity. We still expect that SPuMP will be a product that will interest point of care system designers and potentially research labs looking to save space and upgrade equipment. Members of the SpacePharma team also attended the International Space Station (ISS) R&D Conference, where we got some initial interest in SPuMP.
SPuMP and Multiplex SPuMP