NASA SBIR 2002 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER:02-II B3.01-9666 (For NASA Use Only - Chron: 022333 )
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Advanced Spacecraft Life Support
PROPOSAL TITLE: Mesoporous Catalysts for Ambient Temperature Aqueous Phase Oxidation

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN: (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/ZIP, Phone)
UMPQUA Research Company
125 Volunteer Way
Myrtle Creek , OR   97457 - 0102
(541 ) 863 - 7770

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER: (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/ZIP, Phone)
James R. Akse, Ph.D.
PO Box 609
Myrtle Creek , OR   97457 - 0102
(541 ) 863 - 7770

Advanced development of mesoporous catalysts for ambient temperature oxidation of dissolved organic contaminants is proposed. Mesoporous materials consist of highly ordered three-dimensional structures with precisely controlled pore size distributions, relatively high surface areas, and surface affinities which promote the adsorption of aqueous organic contaminants. When used as a catalyst support, these features offer an effective means to overcome the primary factors which limit the performance of conventional catalysts. These innovative catalysts will facilitate the development of more effective methods for the destruction of organic contaminants in wastewaters generated aboard spacecraft, Lunar and planetary habitations. When fully developed, ambient temperature catalysts can be employed in the volatile removal assembly (VRA) or other similar aqueous phase catalytic oxidation reactors to both increase the degree of mineralization of organic contaminants and to drastically reduce the required operating temperature and pressure. These improved performance characteristics directly translate into reduced size, weight, and power consumption, and therefore will result in substantially lower Equivalent System Mass (ESM) for catalytic reactors which employ these innovative highly active ambient temperature catalysts. Feasibility of the proposed innovation was conclusively demonstrated during the Phase I project in which ambient temperature reaction rates were improved by a factor of 50 times.

The advanced low temperature oxidation catalyst has the potential for immediate use by NASA aboard the International Space Station soon after completion of the Phase II effort. The proposed technology offers the following advantages: 1) ambient temperature (or low temperature) operation will provide savings in energy, simplification in design, and improved safety, 2) lower pressure operation reduces material requirements and enhances safety, 3) higher catalytic activity offers more complete oxidation, thereby increasing reactor efficiency, reducing expendables and extending the useful lifetime of post- treatment IX beds. All of these advantages translate into cost savings.

Private sector applications for the advanced low temperature oxidation catalyst have been identified as: 1) industrial & municipal pollution control and environmental remediation, and 2) ultrapure water production for the manufacture of integrated circuits and pharmaceuticals. The primary competitors to the innovative technology are alternative methods for the removal of organic contaminants from aqueous and gas phase process streams. These include sorption using media such as activated carbon and oxidative techniques such as photocatalytic oxidation, ozonation, Fenton?s type peroxidation, and combinations of ozonation and peroxidation. The low temperature aqueous phase catalytic oxidation process offers improved efficiency, safety and reduced cost over these competing alternatives. The oxidation process has also proven capable of producing a virtually sterile effluent.

Form Printed on 10-03-03 11:34