NASA SBIR 2002 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER:02-II B3.01-8163 (For NASA Use Only - Chron: 023836 )
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Advanced Spacecraft Life Support
PROPOSAL TITLE: A Hybrid Pyrolysis/Incineration System for Solid Waste Resource Recovery

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN: (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/ZIP, Phone)
Advanced Fuel Research, Inc.
87 Church Street
East Hartford , CT   06108 - 3728
(860 ) 528 - 9806

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER: (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/ZIP, Phone)
Michael A. Serio
87 Church Street
East Hartford , CT   06138 - 0379
(860 ) 528 - 9806

The objective of the Phase I SBIR program was to demonstrate the feasibility of integrating pyrolysis and incineration steps into a system for processing of spacecraft solid wastes. The Phase I study involved a combination of bench scale experiments and data analysis. This work was accomplished in four tasks: 1) design and construct bench scale unit; 2) laboratory studies on solid waste processing; 3) evaluation of laboratory results; 4) preliminary design of Phase II prototype. The Phase I project demonstrated that it is possible to pyrolyze a representative solid waste sample and combust the effluent gases in a catalytic incinerator in a close-coupled integrated reactor system. The net result is a significant reduction in Equivalent System Mass (estimated at about 40%) and system complexity. This integration takes advantage of the best features of each process, which is insensitivity to product mix, no O2 consumption, and batch processing, in the case of pyrolysis, and simplicity of product effluent stream in case of incineration. Under Phase II, a prototype hybrid pyrolysis/incineration system will be developed in collaboration with Hamilton Sundstrand Space Systems International (HSSSI) and delivered to NASA.

This project addresses two important problems for long term space travel activities, i.e., solid waste recycling and electrical power production. While the problem of solid waste resource recovery has been studied for many years, there is currently no satisfactory waste disposal/recycling technology. The simple catalytic incinerator in the current study can be replaced with a solid oxide fuel cell for power generation. The char produced in the first stage can be stored as a future source of carbon dioxide or converted to activated carbon which has multiple uses on board a spacecraft (flue gas clean-up, air revitalization, water purification, methane activation, hydrogen storage, radiation protection, medicinal purposes). This system will be useful to NASA in at least three respects: 1) it can be used as the primary solid waste disposal unit; 2) it can be used as a net generator of electrical power; 3) it can be used to produce activated carbon from solid waste.

The primary purpose of this effort will be to develop a piece of hardware for NASA which can become an important component of a Controlled Ecological Life Support System (CELSS). However, there are also important potential benefits to society in terms of significantly increasing the capabilities for distributed power production from biomass and other solid waste. This will contribute to improved energy security, environmental quality and balance of payments. In the near term, the technology will have commercial applications to solid waste resource recovery problems in remote areas such as underdeveloped countries, arctic regions, oil production platforms, cruise ships, rural areas, farms, etc. In the long term, the technology can be integrated with fuel cells and have widespread business or residential use for solid waste removal and combined heat and power generation.

Form Printed on 10-03-03 11:34