Hedgefog Research Inc. (HFR) is developing new, thin-film, Bendable Electrodynamic Dust Shields (BEDS) that allow for continuous dynamic bending over compound curvatures such as the joint regions of a spacesuit, e.g., ankles, knees, elbows, etc. The BEDS technology is based on a combination of customized rigid and bendable plastic sheet forms with thin film electrode arrays fabricated from commercial flexible copper circuit. The two-dimensional flat plastic sheets incorporate flexible ‘living’ hinges that can be bent in either a positive or negative radius to conform to curved surfaces. In Phase I HFR successfully demonstrated 250mm x 170mm laminate structures that allow living hinges to bend and flex over 100,000’s of bending cycles. This creates a highly suitable support material for thin film electrode arrays that use high strength electric fields to remove dust from the surface. In Phase I, HFR fabricated, assembled, and demonstrated the feasibility of the BEDS technology using high voltage waveforms and simulated regolith dust. We also investigated high voltage safety techniques, electro-magnetic interference reduction, and adaptive technologies to switch on the active dust cleaning only when necessary. In Phase II, HFR will expand the size of the BEDS technology to 1m x 2m grids using a roll-to-roll printing technology to reduce fabrication costs and demonstrate additional BEDS devices based on transparent Indium-Tin-Oxide films.
The initial NASA application for BEDS is to protect equipment from accumulation of lunar dust that can act as an abrasive material on moving parts and damage them over a period of time. Applications of the technology may include electro-static grids to disperse lunar dust from entrance pathways, habitats and shelters, tools, equipment, vehicles, electrodes in helmet visors to keep dust away, flexible electrode ‘tape’ for wrapping around tubes and piping, and integration onto the surface of space suits and other dynamically flexible materials.
For solar farms placed in desert areas where dust and sand are prevalent, a proven BEDS cleaning technology of relatively low cost could be retro-fitted to any existing installation. It could also be used to deflect sand and dust from vehicle windshields, pitched tents, and various other pieces of equipment and personnel.