NASA SBIR 2003 Solicitation

FORM B - PROPOSAL SUMMARY


PROPOSAL NUMBER:03-B3.01-8451 (For NASA Use Only - Chron: 034554)
SUBTOPIC TITLE:Advanced Spacecraft Life Support
PROPOSAL TITLE:Microwave Enhanced Freeze Drying of Solid Waste

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Umpqua Research Company
P.O. Box 609
Myrtle Creek ,OR 97457 - 0102
(541) 863 - 7770

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Richard R.  Wheeler, Jr., P.E.
rwheeler@urcmail.net
PO Box 609
Myrtle Creek ,OR  97457 -0102
(541) 863 - 2661
U.S. Citizen or Legal Resident: Yes

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (LIMIT 200 WORDS)
Development of technology for Microwave Enhanced Freeze Drying of Solid Waste (MEFDSW) is proposed. The present state of the art for solid waste stabilization using lyophilization is very effective at removing water (up to 99.9%), but suffers from long processing times and high specific energy, because system equipment must operate continuously over the duration of the process. For conventional freeze drying operations, the system vacuum pump and the heat transfer system are in continuous operation. By utilizing microwave power to provide the necessary phase change energy to convert solid water to water vapor via sublimation at low pressure and temperature, the conductive heat transfer rate limitation that plagues conventional freeze dryers can be short-circuited. In addition, since the product quality of the dried solid waste is less of an issue than for food and pharmaceutical products, the sublimation envelope can be pushed. If the eutectic temperature is exceeded in localized regions in the solid waste during processing and partial melting to liquid water occurs in these regions, little significant impact, if any, will be made on the final state of the dried solid waste, but the rate of drying may be greatly accelerated, making the overall process more efficient.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (LIMIT 150 WORDS)
The primary use of the MEFDSW technology would be as Flight Hardware for solid waste treatment aboard manned spacecraft and planetary habitats. The proposed technology is particularly well suited for deployment on long duration missions such as Mars transit, Mars base, and lunar outpost scenarios.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (LIMIT 150 WORDS)
Important industrial applications are envisioned such as the stabilization of medical waste and improvement of commercial lyophilizers. With regard to the latter application, significant energy efficiency improvements may be possible if microwave heating is utilized during the sublimation step.