NASA SBIR 2003 Solicitation

FORM B - PROPOSAL SUMMARY


PROPOSAL NUMBER:03-B3.01-8092 (For NASA Use Only - Chron: 034915)
SUBTOPIC TITLE:Advanced Spacecraft Life Support
PROPOSAL TITLE:Low-power formaldehyde detector for space applications

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Southwest Sciences Inc
1570 Pacheco St Suite E-11
Santa Fe ,NM 87505 - 3993
(505) 984 - 1322

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Daniel   Kane
djkane@swsciences.com
1570 Pacheco St Suite E-11
Santa Fe ,NM  87505 -3993
(505) 984 - 1322
U.S. Citizen or Legal Resident: Yes

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (LIMIT 200 WORDS)
Trace contamination of the International Space Station (ISS) by formaldehyde?a known carcinogen? is a significant potential threat to crew health. The spacecraft maximum allowable concentration (SMAC) in air is only 40 parts per billion and ambient concentrations appear to be increasing as formaldehyde outgasses from a variety of plastic components. Monitoring formaldehyde levels is difficult because few analytical methods can achieve sufficient sensitivity from instrumentation that can be adapted for space-based operation. The current detection method ? using absorbent ?badges? ? relies on post-flight analysis of the adsorbent material. Some of those measurements show formaldehyde concentrations close to the SMAC upper bound. As a result, a need exists for a reliable, fully automated analyzer that can provide continuous monitoring of formaldehyde concentrations on board the ISS. The target detection sensitivity is 10 ppb and the response time should be ≤10 minutes. Southwest Sciences proposes the development of an optical analyzer for formaldehyde that is expected to meet the requirements of space-based operation. The instrument will be compact, light weight, require little electrical power and no consumables, and will be able to operate for extended periods (months to years) without maintenance or re-calibration.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (LIMIT 150 WORDS)
The spacecraft maximum allowable concentration (SMAC) of formaldehyde in air is only 40 parts per billion and ambient concentrations appear to be increasing as formaldehyde outgasses from a variety of plastic components. Monitoring formaldehyde levels is difficult because few analytical methods can achieve sufficient sensitivity from instrumentation that can be adapted for space-based operation. The current detection method ? using absorbent ?badges? ? relies slow, post-flight analysis of the adsorbent material. Some of those measurements show formaldehyde concentrations close to the SMAC upper bound. Our technology will provide real-time monitoring of formaldehyde in spacecraft.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (LIMIT 150 WORDS)
Formaldehyde is a commonly used, but dangerous compound. Levels as low as 1 ppm can irritate the eyes, nose and throat. Formaldehyde has also been found to cause cancer in test animals. Used extensively in industry and in the manufacture of plastics, monitoring background levels for workplace safety is of the utmost importance. Our technology can easily be adapted to measure in formaldehyde in spot locations as well as perimeter monitoring. In addition to detecting formaldehyde, our technology can be adapted to detect arsine and phosphine, which are also important and toxic industrial gases.