NASA SBIR 2003 Solicitation

FORM B - PROPOSAL SUMMARY


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 03- II B3.01-8451
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Advanced Spacecraft Life Support
PROPOSAL TITLE: Microwave Enhanced Freeze Drying of Solid Waste

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Richard R. Wheeler, Jr., PE
rwheeler@urcmail.net
PO Box 609
Myrtle Creek, OR 97457-0102
(541)863-7770
U.S. Citizen or Legal Resident: Yes

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (LIMIT 200 WORDS)
The development of advanced methods for Microwave Enhanced Freeze Drying of Solid Waste (MEFDSW) is proposed. Methods for the recovery of relatively pure water as a byproduct of freeze drying will also be fully developed. The Phase II project will result in the design, assembly, thorough testing, and delivery of a technology demonstrator prototype which may be employed over a broad range of mission scenarios. The prototype system will recover water initially contained within the wastes and stabilize the residue with respect to microbial growth. The dry waste may then be safely stored or passed on to the next solid waste treatment process. Using microwave power in a closed microwave cavity, water-ice present in the frozen solid waste can be selectively and rapidly heated. This results in a more energy efficient lyophilization process, and therefore hardware based upon this technology will have a lower Equivalent System Mass (ESM) than currently available systems.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (LIMIT 100 WORDS)
Worldwide, freeze drying is a billion dollar support industry, used to preserve a host of products, including: foods such as coffee, fruits and vegetables, as well as multiple health care and pharmaceutical products. If the innovative technology can shorten the average processing time and also provide a net reduction in energy usage, then millions of dollars can be saved annually. In these highly competitive markets, savings in time and energy directly translate into lower production costs and higher profits. Target industries include Food Processing and Biopharmaceuticals. Oregon Freeze Dry, Inc., has indicated interest in this innovation.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (LIMIT 100 WORDS)
The primary NASA application for the proposed innovation will be as Flight Hardware purchased by NASA, or by an aerospace contracting firm on behalf of NASA, to provide microbial stabilization and water recovery from solid waste, thereby minimizing the health risks associated with solid waste management, and minimizing the water resupply requirements for future advanced life support (ALS) systems needed for long duration manned missions in space, such as a Lunar base, or a manned mission to Mars.