NASA SBIR 2003 Solicitation

FORM B - PROPOSAL SUMMARY


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 03- II B3.01-8092
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Advanced Spacecraft Life Support
PROPOSAL TITLE: Low-Power Formaldehyde Detector for Space Applications

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Daniel J 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 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 100 WORDS)
The development of the new optical analyzer for formaldehyde will allow the detection of gases that have previously been unobtainable with current technology. Detection of compounds such as arsine, phosphine, ammonia, and ethylene for will be possible using our new spectroscopic source. This will open new commericial opportunities in medical breath testing for disease identification and screening, in-line industrial monitoring, and hazardous gas sensing. The small size, low-power, and low cost requirements will permit partable devices as well as stationary units.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (LIMIT 100 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 on 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.