Space booster? Costa Rican coffee could be outta this world

August 22, 2008

Astronauts and space tourists may soon enjoy Costa Rican-style coffee while in orbit thanks to a recent invention that works without gravity and uses natural convection to heat water.

 

Josué Solano, age 23, and Daniel Rozen, 24, have hatched the new “Infusor Espacial,” their thesis project for an electromechanical engineering degree at the Costa Rica Technology Institute.

 

It took Solano and Rozen six months to create, but the idea has been percolating for years since Costa Rican former astronaut Franklin Chang became tired of microwave-made instant coffee, and drew up a preliminary design.

 

Without giving away too many specifics, the young creators said the coffeemaker is made of stainless steal, in three functionally parts: a heating chamber, a piston-like device to push hot water into ground coffee beans and a container for the ready-to-drink coffee.

 

“What we did was create a device to simulate natural convection, which is a method to transfer heat that doesn’t exist in space due to the characteristics of microgravity,” Solano told newswire EFE.

 

The device works by infusion, much like the system used to make herbal tea. “You can also put plants, leaves or stems in to extract medicinal substances, flavors or vegetable oils,” Solano explained, adding that in addition to creating beverages the invention should be used to help find cures to diseases.

Chang’s brother Ronald Chang, director of the ex-astronaut’s Ad Astra Rocket Company, said the invention still needs the financing from “a big pharmaceutical or coffee company” to manufacture the device to be used in spaceships.

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